Shopkeepers' joy as free parking returns to Walsall
Traders today welcomed plans to lift controversial on-street parking charges on six Walsall roads and said it would mean they could get back to "business as normal".
Shopkeepers in Ablewell Street had reported a dip in trade of up to 40 per cent following the introduction of the charges in March last year. The move even prompted an 800-name petition which was handed in to Parliament. But Walsall Council highways bosses have now revealed they plan to end the on-street parking charges.
Free parking for two hours will instead be offered in Ward Street, Wedge Street, Warewell Street, Tantarra Street, Bott Lane and Ablewell Street.
They say they want to encourage town centre parking and make Walsall a more attractive place to work and shop.
Shopkeepers had claimed people did not want to pay 20p for 10 minutes parking when just popping to pick up a paper, a pint of milk or a sandwich.
Namead Khan, of News & Booze in Ablewell Street, said he was delighted to hear the news.
"We lost a lot of trade because people did not want to pay the charges so hopefully we can get back to business as usual," he said. "We were about 40 per cent down after the charges came in so now we can look forward to them going up again."
Nick Papnicodemou, who runs NE Sandwich in Ablewell Street, said: "I'm so glad the council has finally realised these charges were killing the town and the businesses here.
"We were down around 30 per cent when they were first introduced and this got a bit better, to about 15 per cent down, because we had more people ringing up to order their food first. It is brilliant news.
"All we were ever asking for was a half hour amnesty so two hours free parking is even better for some of the businesses along here."
Council bosses are also considering cutting parking charges on council-run car parks by up to 40 per cent. All-day parking will drop from £5 to £3 while four-hour parking will be £2.80, down from £3.80.
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