Pontardawe Town Centre parking charges are back on agenda
THE introduction of parking charges in Pontardawe is again being considered by council officers.
Neath Port Talbot Council has confirmed they have carried out a parking survey, following regeneration work in the town, and the introduction of charges is one of the options being pondered.
It will then be presented to councillors to consider, but residents and businesses have expressed their opposition to bringing in charges to park in the town. Two thousand people have signed a new petition opposing the move since the beginning of September.
The town's council also voted earlier this month unanimously to oppose their introduction. And at least 25 businesses have signed up to a letter sent to MP Peter Hain, and AMs Gwenda Thomas and Bethan Jenkins, appealing for their support.
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Pontardawe councillor Linet Purcell said: "We began the petition on September 5, and collected 1,000 signatures in just four days.
"This amazing response demonstrates the incredible level of anger that Pontardawe residents feel about this threat to their town centre.
"They are particularly annoyed that whereas neighbouring councils are doing their best to protect their small town centres by abolishing parking charges, Neath Port Talbot Council is determined to carry out this very unpopular move despite the wishes of the people".
Last year, Neath Port Talbot Council announced it was to postpone plans to introduce parking charges at Pontardawe's High Street car park, and two in Herbert Street, which it had proposed as part of a county-wide review.
It proposed charging motorists 50p for up to two hours, or £1 for up to four, while Pontardawe bypass car park would join Station Road and Heilbron Way in Port Talbot and Milland Road in Neath by becoming a £2-all-day facility.
But opponents argued potential customers would bypass the town, and that those who did visit would seek to avoid the charges by parking in side streets, causing extra congestion for residents.
The authority agreed to postpone the charges while regeneration work to the town centre was ongoing. It also received two petitions opposing their introduction, signed by almost 3,000 signatures.
But the then cabinet member for the environment, Collin Crowley, warned that, despite the decision to postpone their introduction, parking charges would come to the town.
He said at the time: "I have told members that parking charges will come to Pontardawe."
A spokesman for Neath Port Talbot Council said: "The introduction of parking charges was deferred until the end of the regeneration project to Pontardawe Town Centre. Following the previous petition opposing the introduction of parking charges, an undertaking was given that a parking survey would be carried out to establish usage of the car parks and consideration of the suggestions made by the Chamber of Trade at the time. The parking survey has been completed and options for the introduction of charges are being further reviewed by officers of the council and will be presented to council members in due course."