Supermarket’s free parking has ‘severe’ impact on council income

Thursday 10th January 2019 4:53 pm
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FREE parking at Abergavenny’s Morrison store has caused the local authority to lose around £2,500 in car parking income per week.

Monmouthshire County Council is expecting to lose £197,000 by the end of the financial year, a report has revealed.

The two hours free parking offered at the supermarket is undercutting pay and display car parks in Abergavenny.

The temporary closure of two car parks in Abergavenny and Monmouth has also been blamed for the reduced income.

A 10 per cent rise in parking fees, and the introduction of charges on Sundays, is now being considered by council chiefs to plug the shortfall.

The long-awaited Morrisons store opened in March 2018, more than eight years after an initial deal was struck to develop on the former cattle market site.

In 2010, Morrisons was expected to apply parking charges in line with council tariffs – but this was changed in the final agreement reached in 2016.

Documents show that the authority removed the parking requirement in exchange for an increased capital receipt, though this additional sum is not disclosed.

The final deal was worth £17.75 million, with £13.75 million upfront and a further £4 million paid over 25 years.

A council spokesman said: “While negotiations were undertaken the Morrison chain was withdrawing from sites elsewhere as the supermarket sector contracted in response to structural changes in the market.

“Accordingly, our priority was the retention of the supermarket to increase footfall in the town centre and offset the likelihood of shoppers visiting neighbouring towns.

“It is inevitable that the creation of an additional 233 car parking spaces in Abergavenny would have an impact on car parking income regardless of whether charges are imposed and we are delighted that the scheme as a whole has been such a success.”

Monmouthshire council had not expected such “severe” impacts on its budgets, estimating ongoing pressures of around £120,000 every year.

The report adds: “To match the [free parking] offer, the council MCC would need to offer two free hours in car parks as well but this would have further implications upon pay and display income.”

The council is expecting its transport budget to overspend by around £242,000 by March 31, with the reduction in car parking income accounting for most of the deficit.

Members of the economy and development select committee will discuss the report on Thursday, January 10.

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