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Review of free parking days to be carried out to benefit towns

A REVIEW of free parking days in council-run car parks across Carmarthenshire is to be carried out to make sure towns are benefitting fully from the initiative.

A 12-month pilot will also be carried out in Llandovery to assess the impact that an increased 12 free parking days has on the town.

Carmarthenshire County Council currently provides five free parking days in council car parks in Llanelli, Carmarthen, Ammanford, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Newcastle Emlyn and St Clears to support local events and help boost the local economy.

It also provides regular free parking in council short stay car parks on weekdays in those towns to try and increase footfall during quieter periods.

However, the council’s Cabinet has now asked for a review to be carried out in consultation with businesses in each of those towns to assess whether the current arrangements meet their needs and whether more can be done to support them.

Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services Cllr Edward Thomas said: “I think we need to review the entire strategy, it hasn’t been reviewed since 2018, and I think there is an opportunity here to look across the county at what is best for each individual town, as each town has different circumstances.

“We are keen to work with stakeholders and partners across the county in order to ensure our parking strategy is up-to-date, evidence-based and is maximising the economic benefits to the town whilst also contributing to the council’s wider objectives around helping to reduce traffic problems, congestion and air quality and investing in our public transport system.”

Representatives from some of the county’s rural towns have asked about the potential to increase the number of free parking days, following recent reports carried out as part of the council’s Ten Towns initiative, which aims to increase the resilience and future growth of Carmarthenshire’s rural market towns and surrounding areas.

In particular, a wide range of activities and events are taking place in Llandovery, which will also welcome the National Urdd Eisteddfod next year.

Council Leader Cllr Darren Price said: “Free parking is happening because of the various activities taking place in Llandovery and it is central to how they see the economic growth in that area. Point 5 in the recommendations recognises that and proposes that we start a pilot for 12 months to see how that will work.

“We recognise there is inconsistency across the county in terms of free parking and the different days it‘s delivered, and this is an opportunity to look at the free parking strategy across the county.

“It’s vitally important that we work with the different towns and the businesses in those towns via the BIDs and other organisations to see whether the current system works for them or if it needs to be changed. In the initial discussions that I have had with a lot of members I think there is an eagerness to re-look at this to make sure that it does deliver as we want it to.”