Wales

Wrexham disabled parking charge plan criticised

Cars parked outside Wrexham Shopmobility Image copyright Google
Image caption Wrexham council said it had no powers against able-bodied drivers using the spaces

A row has broken out over plans to charge disabled drivers who park next to Wrexham bus station.

Liberal Democrat councillor Alun Jenkins claimed it would deter disabled people from visiting the town centre.

But the council said the bays were open to abuse as it had no powers to stop able-bodied motorists parking there.

The decision comes as the authority agreed a 12-month trial of making its car parks free to all after 14:00 daily to boost town centre trade.

The charge would be £1 for less than an hour, £1.80 for one to three hours and variable prices above that.

Councillor Jenkins said the disabled parking bays were popular with users of the nearby Shopmobility service, which hires out scooters and wheelchairs to help people access the main shopping areas.

He feared the service could be at risk if charges were introduced, and urged the ruling Independent/Conservative coalition to think again.

"If a disabled person has to come into town and pay for parking before paying for the shop mobility service then a lot of disabled people simply won't come to Wrexham," the former cabinet member said.

"I think we've lost a lot of disabled spaces on the streets of Wrexham.

"What I'm going to ask you do to is to hold back on this recommendation to give further consideration to this aspect of it."

Parking charges have already been introduced for blue badge holders at all council car parks in Wrexham where fees apply, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The authority said the amount charged near the bus station would be in line with other parts of the town centre, including an extra hour free for blue badge holders.

Council leader Mark Pritchard denied claims that disabled parking spaces had been cut, saying: "Anybody who knows me understands that I have a passion to support people with disabilities."

The fees are due to be brought in from April after a consultation period.

A 12-month trial of free parking after 14:00 will also begin in April, including all council car parks except the multi-storey above Tŷ Pawb.

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