3,000 oppose end to free parking in Pontardawe

Image caption,
Campaigners argue introducing car park charges would be a false economy

Plans to end free parking in Pontardawe have been put on hold after almost 3,000 people objected.

Neath Port Talbot Council wanted to charge £2 for use of its car parks.

Businesses and residents complained the charge would "kill trade" with shops in the town reliant on passing and short stay customers.

In light of "significant objections", councillors agreed nothing should be done until £1m plans to regenerate Pontardawe were completed.

During consultation, the council received two petitions signed by 2,700 and 284 people respectively.

A further 33 letters of objection were also submitted.

The council wanted to end free parking and bring Pontardawe in line with other towns such as Neath and Port Talbot.

But campaigners argued that their shopping centre was smaller and more reliant on casual trade.

The responses went before the council's environment cabinet board.

John Jones, of the town's chamber of trade, said it would obviously be pleasing the charges were not yet going ahead.

But he said by deferring the decision campaigners could well find themselves fighting the charges again in a year or two.

"You just can't compare Pontardawe, with 5,000 people, to Neath with 40,000 or Port Talbot with 37,000," he added.

"If people can't park for free they won't shop here and there will be nobody parking anyway - it's a false economy."

At Thursday's meeting councillors also gave final approval for the town's regeneration projects.

Improvements will be carried out to the Cwm Du Glen Bridge and the site of the former Motorworld retail outlet.

Herbert Street will see a new public square, street furniture and tree planting as well as new lighting and disabled parking.

Council leader Ali Thomas said: "These projects will kick-start the plans the council has to regenerate Pontardawe town centre which I'm sure will be welcomed by traders and residents.

"This will further enhance the existing town centre and reinforce Pontardawe's position as an attractive place to live, work and visit."

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