THE leader of Solihull Council, Ken Meeson, has said the reduced number of cars parking in parts of Shirley is a ‘good sign,’ despite concerns people are deserting the town.
Councillor Meeson told the Solihull News that since the council had announced free parking will be limited to three hours, the number of cars being left all day has reduced, which is freeing-up space for shoppers.
His comments came after Coun Howard Allen (Green, Shirley West) had raised concerns over the reduced occupancy rate, blaming the town’s Parkgate scheme for the drop.
“People are now choosing to desert the town in large numbers,” he said.
“Despite protests by traders, the Shirley Park and British Legion car parks were closed in July 2012 to allow Parkgate construction to begin.
“This saw the start of a significant decline in footfall and this has never recovered as the temporary provision in Haslucks Green Road was only made available in December 2012.”
The latest Shirley car parking survey conducted by Solihull Council (between December 2012 and February 2013) shows a decreased number of cars using certain car parks in the town.
For example, Saturday, December 8, shows an occupancy rate of 81 per cent, compared to 44 per cent on Saturday, January 12 and 55 per cent on Saturday, February 23.
Coun Meeson added: “Now we have announced that free parking will be limited to three hours the number of cars being left all day has reduced and this is freeing-up spaces for shoppers.
“That of course means that the strategy is working and it is easier to park, which is exactly what [Coun Allen] was asking for.
“Shirley has suffered from ice and snow which has affected most of the country and meant fewer people visiting shopping centres in recent weeks.”