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Frome Parking: the bad news

CAR parking charges in Frome are set to rise next year, as Mendip District Council proposes increases to tariffs. But the move has been heavily criticised by local traders who say it will hit town centre trade.

The council is proposing to increase all tariffs by 10p for the first hour, and then all tariffs thereafter by 20p (inclusive of VAT).

Car parks run by Mendip District Council, which will be affected by the increase, include the market car park at the Cheese and Grain, Cork Street, South Parade and Vicarage Street.

The council says that the proposed increase in charges reflects the increase in inflationary costs since the tariffs were last reviewed in 2011.

But local shoppers and traders say it is a bad move.

Nigel Harris from Frome and District Chamber of Commerce said, “The Chamber is disappointed Mendip District Council have only looked at car parking in terms of charges, and only looked at increasing them. Their review didn’t look at the market in which Frome operates and competition from Trowbridge with large numbers of free and cheaper parking spaces.

“ATCM (Association of Town & City Managers) says car parking charges in towns like Frome are too high.

“All the advice on best practice is that charges need to be tailored as part of a wider package. That includes signage, use of tariffs and charging systems.  Mendip had a report as long ago as 2008 which identified the poor signage to their car parks in Frome but they still haven’t taken any action on that.

“Tariff structures should encourage visitors to stay longer – there’s lot’s to do in Frome but the tariffs encourage visitors to limit their stay to 2 hours. The ATCM review of car parking in towns this year recommended having limits set at three hours not two, which they say is revenue neutral.

“We would also like the council to introduce pay on exit in the Cattle Market and payment options using mobile phones, both of which will encourage longer stays.

“Other local authorities have tried imaginative schemes to encourage use of car parks at quieter times. We will be encouraging MDC to think a bit more creatively about its car parking strategy.”

Cllr Nigel Taylor, portfolio holder for regulatory services at Mendip District Council said, “These increases in charges are being proposed to cover the increase in inflationary costs associated with providing off-street parking throughout Mendip.

“We have done our best to keep these price rises low and have pledged to freeze season ticket costs until 2015. Our season tickets are very popular and offer great savings for drivers who use our car parks on a regular basis.”

The council added that there will be no changes made to the free parking concession for Blue Badge holders and season ticket charges will be frozen at their current level until March 2015. There are also no changes to the current parking tariffs for coaches and HGVs.

Mendip District Council has launched a consultation over the proposals and says that it will consider responses before any decision is made. If approved, the changes to tariffs are expected to be introduced from 1st April 2014.

Comments on the proposals should be made in writing before 19th December (quoting reference: 2014 Parking Review) to Car Parks team, Mendip District Council, Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT or by email to