There should be free parking in Welsh towns in order to keep our town centres bustling, Plaid Cymru will say today (Wednesday October 5th 2016). Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government Sian Gwenllian will call on the Welsh Government to set up a new fund to enable local authorities and community groups to offer free car parking in towns throughout Wales to support local shops and businesses.
Sian Gwenllian said that Wales has more empty shops on its high streets than the rest of the UK, and said that the Welsh Government should recognise the need to support the high street in order to keep it as a vibrant economic hub.
Ahead of the debate, Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government Sian Gwenllian said:
“Town centres are the focal point of the local community and local economy, but at the moment they are being left behind because of difficult economic circumstances. Footfall figures from towns right across Wales paint a worrying picture with town centres such as Abergavenny, Mold and Aberystwyth experiencing a decline in footfall of 39%, 28% and 18% respectively.
“Plaid Cymru recognises the importance of a vibrant and diverse high street in supporting local business owners and the local economy, and we know that the lack of free parking is often a big turn off for shoppers. Out of town developments often offer free parking so it makes it very difficult for the high street to compete.
“By allowing local authorities and community groups to provide free parking for shoppers, we can help level the playing field for high streets and get shoppers back there. Plaid Cymru wants to see the Welsh Government set up a fund to help local authorities cover this cost.
“And we can do even more. We can lower business rates for small businesses and bring 70,000 of them out of paying rates altogether, and we can try to plug the £500 million funding gap that small businesses face by establishing a properly funded Welsh Development Bank, in order to lend to small businesses and help them grow.
“We can’t overlook how important the high street is for the wellbeing of a local area. A bustling high street often indicates a vibrant local economy, so it’s important that we do all we can to save the high street.”