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Hike in car parking charges will ‘kill off the town centre!’

PROPOSED changes to Frome’s car parks by Mendip District Council have provoked a strong reaction from the community, with local representatives calling for the council to formally consult with the town.

The district council’s Car Parking Strategy proposes a price increase for the Cattle Market, Cork Street and Merchants Barton car parks; the introduction of Sunday charges; and a 60-67% price increase for car park season tickets.

The proposal also considers losing some of the Cattle Market car park to the proposed plan for an office block made from steel shipping containers, and selling all or part of North Parade car park for residential development.

The strategy was due to be discussed at the Mendip District Council Cabinet meeting this week. But the item was removed from the agenda and the document outlining the proposed changes was withdrawn from public view.

Marketing and Media Officer for the council, Laura Thomas, explained,  “A few amendments are being made to the draft and will be published along with Cabinet papers in May. The date of the May Cabinet is Monday 21st May.”

However, before the strategy was removed from the council’s website, Frome & District Chamber of Commerce shared a summary of the proposal on Facebook, attracting wide criticism of the plans.

“Another nail in the coffin for the town centre. How about having the first 30 minutes free in all the car parks, then start the charges after that – would encourage people to use the town centre for the little things. It’s so much easier to use the supermarkets and an increase in parking charges isn’t going to help,” said Zoe Needs.

Chris Moxon said “Mendip have always resented Frome. Now they’ve seen an opportunity to cash in on Frome’s vibrant community markets and events. Instead of trying to solve Frome’s parking problems they’re going to make things worse.”

“How to kill off the town centre!” added Jane Scott.

Speaking to Frome Times on behalf of Frome & District Chamber of Commerce,  Neil Howlett said, “We recognise that Mendip District Council is under financial pressure, as are all local authorities. We would welcome a proper review of car parking in Frome covering both on and off street parking, including Somerset County Council who are responsible for on street parking.

“That needs to look at the needs of residents, people who work in the town and visitors. We’ve suggested to Mendip District Council before that there are better ways they could use their car parks, which would bring in more income for them without increasing charges. We look forward to having a productive dialogue with them about better arrangements for parking in Frome that meet everyone’s needs.”

Frome town councillor Mark Dorrington added, “This report has now been deferred by Mendip but the proposals will no doubt soon return to the table.

“We hope Mendip will consult carefully as the report contained some important issues for Frome on increased car parking charges, Sunday charging for the first time and the possible development of two car parks in the town centre.”

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