a drone shot above a car park
Credit: Envato Elements

Story by Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

Torfaen Council has said it has “no plans at all” to end its free parking policy in the county.

The prospect of introducing parking charges in Torfaen was questioned after a council report highlighted the benefit of “easily accessible car parks with attractive charging rates.” 

That prompted Cwmbran St Dials councillor Elizabeth Haynes to ask if Torfaen Borough Council was likely to bring in parking charges. 

It was then confirmed there are no plans to do so. 

Cllr Mandy Owen, the Labour cabinet member for the environment, told the council scrutiny committee: “I certainly don’t have any proposals to take forward. With car parking charges you’ve got to look at tourism, there’s so much. We want people to come into the borough and I don’t want to put any barriers up. 

“Nothing is coming forward. If it does, and never say never as someone may put a suggestion up, it would definitely go to consultation but in the meantime, councillor, no there is nothing, no plans at all.” 

Independent Cllr Haynes welcomed the confirmation from Cllr Owen and said: “That’s fantastic to hear because I agree with Mandy, part of the attraction of Torfaen is that it’s free parking and people travel from all over to come here. I think we would be kicking ourselves in the foot.” 

Last month councillors in neighbouring Monmouthshire, where the price of parking is to increase by 10 per cent in April, were told the charges raise £1.6 million which helps support its wider highways budget. 

Monmouthshire councillors were also told the council is mindful when setting charges of the impact on town centres and the attraction of free parking in Torfaen, particularly Cwmbran.

Gavin Newman, Torfaen council’s team leader for highways, traffic and enforcement said his report on the performance of its enforcement teams, that was being considered by the cleaner communities scrutiny committee, hadn’t intended to suggest there would be charges for car parking. 

It said “attractive charging rates” would encourage visitors and “lead to an improvement in the economic viability of the areas”. 

Mr Newman said: “I think the point I was trying to make was our offer of free parking, I think that’s as attractive as you can get.” 

He said the British Parking Association has conducted research on the impact of parking rates on footfall, which he said hadn’t found a direct link, but “attractive” charges encourage people to use car parks.