Dudley opposition councillor brands free scheme as publicity stunt

Halesowen North councillor, Hillary Bills, claims the initiative is a 'badly thought out publicity stunt' after the free time was reduced to one hour.

Under Consevative leadership, council chiefs recently reduced their initial offer of two hours of free parking to a single hour across council car parks in Dudley, Sedgley, Brierley Hill and Halesowen.

Users are now charged £1.40 for the second hour, with bosses citing sustainability and cash flow as the reason behind the decision. Speaking to the Express and Star, Cllr Bills said:

“I want to know if the cabinet member knew the results of the parking trial before making these changes? What a slap in the face to those loyal shoppers who were returning to Halesowen to shop for two hours.

“What we need is a table of charges that makes sense and not some badly thought out publicity stunt."

Local resident, Helen Betts-Patel, added: "I felt pretty ripped off. The parking went from two hours to one and all that changed on the large notices on the railings going into town was the number.

“Any money I saved during the two hour free parking has been swallowed up by a fine. Surely, I should get the first hour free and only pay for the second anyway?"

Leaders have promised to make free parking a permanent offer in the borough from next April, as part of the budget setting process. Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for environmental services, said:

“We’re committed to providing free parking across the borough long term to help our local town centres thrive, but want to ensure we do this in the best way.

“So we’re changing the trial to one hour’s free parking on all council pay and display car parks across the borough.


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