Prendergast Ward County Councillor and IPPG Group member, Mark Edwards, has attempted this week to allay fears that the opening of Debenhams will not see the levels of traffic chaos that could spell months of misery for many of the Town’s motorists.
Speaking with The Herald he discussed his fears, balancing them with solutions he saw as reasons for his Ward electorate to be optimistic. He said,
“Debenhams is in my electoral division of Prendergast and, although I welcome its arrival to the town, it does have major implications for local residents who are my constituents. Plus the size of the car park is insufficient even before Debenhams arrives”.
He went on to explain that the Council’s Head of Highways, Darren Thomas, had spoken with Prupim who own and manage the Withybush Retail Park. In that conversation Mr Edwards alleged that Prupim had confirmed they would use traffic on site stewards to ‘help with the flow of cars’. The management company have also apparently assured customers that staff will have their own car park and when this is full, employees can park in the town car parks and take a shuttle bus, funded by Prupim, to their place of work.
Mr Edwards also stated that discussions were well in advance in relation to Prupim building a multi-story car park to the rear of the Debenhams store.
When asked if the car park on the retail site would remain a free car park, he confirmed this to be the case, prompting the question as to whether customers would, therefore, avoid using paying car parks in town, rather than adopt the common practice of entering the retail park and simply waiting for a space to become free, thus clogging up the car park and surrounding roads. On this point, he conceded that this was a possibilty until a multi-story car park was erected, and said that the suggestion would be made to Prupim that they erect a temporary multi-story facility, similar to that used by Tesco during its redevelopment several years ago. However, when pressed on the issue of a date for completion for any type of multi-story car parking facility, he was unable to provide one as yet.
Len Mullins, Press and PR manager at Pembrokeshire County Council, responded to questions posed to Darren Thomas. When asked about the issues of a multi-story car park, permanent or temporary, and on who would pay for any changes to road structure required to accommodate an increase in traffic volumes, he simply stated that,
“As you will appreciate, Withybush Retail Park is a privately owned site and therefore our options are limited. Discussions on options to address potential car parking issues at the Withybush Retail Park are currently being considered”.
The Herald also contacted Prupim, property managers of the retail park, who advised us that they are in fact called M & G Real Estate, and on this occasion, and at this moment in time, were unable to offer any comment.