Solihull Council u-turn on Shirley free parking welcomed - The Solihull Observer

Solihull Council u-turn on Shirley free parking welcomed

Solihull Editorial 25th Jul, 2019   0

A SOLIHULL Council u-turn over a controversial cut to free parking in Shirley has been welcomed after sustained opposition from petitioners, high street traders and an MP.

As part of ex-leader Councillor Bob Sleigh’s final budget, free parking for motorists at council-operated car parks was set to be slashed from three to only one hour.

The change was set to be introduced from September despite a petition against it with more than 1,650 signatures.

But, as we reported yesterday, after an environment and highways decision session meeting, cabinet member Ken Hawkins scrapped the proposals – for now at least.

This means motorists can still enjoy three hours free parking at car parks across Shirley including Church Road and Red Lion Square, behind Iceland and Aldi on the Stratford Road.

A past critic of the plans, Solihull MP Julian Knight tweeted in response to Coun Hawkins’ announcement: “Glad to read this. Pleased to have represented the views of residents on this matter.”

In February, he called on the council to reject plans and support independent retailers and ‘bricks-and-mortar’ shops on the high street instead.

Conservative councillor Mark Parker tweeted: “This is good news that there is a commitment to developing an action plan to protect Shirley town centre.

“It is an important economic asset.

“The Conservatives are committed to Shirley and we have seen massive inward investment in recent years.”

Following the announcement, Solihull Labour group tweeted: “This will be welcomed by all parties who opposed the planned increases which would have damaged Shirley’s economy.”

Shirley Green Party councillor Tim Hodgson said: “I’m thrilled the council has finally listened to people of Shirley and has backed our small businesses, voluntary groups and has given our high street a chance to thrive.

“The weight of public opinion against the charges was very clear.

“My colleagues and I will work positively with the council, businesses and local groups to help ensure we get a Business Improvement District (BID) up and running to further support Shirley.”

An action plan to boost Shirley high street after the failure of the Shirley BID launch will now be considered – with a second attempt on the cards.

There were fears free parking would be cut to only 30 minutes in line with regulations imposed in Knowle last year, but opposition forced a still unpopular compromise at one hour instead.

Council chiefs hoped the measure would save about £80,000 compared to the £150,000 it would have saved if 30 minute regulations were introduced.

In Shirley, proposals for motorists to park for free for one hour only and then be charged 50p to stay up to two hours and £1 for staying between two to three hours were scrapped.

Numerous traders on the Shirley high street also condemned the plans saying they would lead to a fall in footfall and subsequent squeeze on profit margins.


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