BUSINESSES in Barry Island are concerned that the introduction of winter parking charges will deter customers.
Parking charges apply during the Spring and Summer but this is the first year that the Vale of Glamorgan council have decided to charge over the Winter months.
The charges came into place on October 1 and last until March. Drivers will now have to pay 50p for an hour or £2.50 for all day parking.
But business owners are upset because once the tourist trade in the summer months ends they rely on dog walkers for trade.
Alexander Danis, 34, is the owner of Coffee Cove on Friars Road, a cafe tailored for dog walkers. He said: “I understand the council needs money, but it’s the locals who are being penalised. They pay their council tax, so why should they have to pay to park? ”
Janet Stanley, 67, from Colcot in Barry, works for the council. She said: “I know that they’re strapped for cash, but it’s just punishing those who can’t afford it. People always bring their dogs down for Christmas but it might stop people from doing it now.”
The charges are affecting local businesses too. Guy Sillit, 58, who owns Barry Gymnasium on Paget Road, which is a registered charity, said the charges have “100% hurt business”.
Mark Vockins, 41, owner of Quasars on Station Approach Road, submitted a Freedom Of Information request to the council asking how much had been made from parking charges over the summer since 2007. He made copies of his findings and distributed them amongst the shops on the Island.
The two main parking bays of Harbour Road and Nell’s Point have been steadily increasing over the years. He said: “The council this year made £280,395 on parking, so why are they charging over winter too? They’re just being greedy.”
Mr Vockins fears that the charges will mean people will walk their dogs elsewhere. He said: “It’s not so much the parking itself, but if you’re taking your dog for a walk you’ll want to stay for more than one hour.
“People normally come down here, walk the dog, stop off for a coffee, something to eat and then head off. They won’t want to do that if it’s costing them £2.50 every time,they’ll go somewhere else.”
The charges have also impacted on residential areas. Caradoc Butler, 58, lives in Barry Island. He said: “I’ve noticed that there have been more cars parked around my area since the charges. Sometimes it’s hard to reverse my car out of the drive. It’s an inconvenience.”
However, not all dog walkers are bothered about the charges. Jill Davies, 69, and her husband Terry, 84, don’t see a problem. “Councillors have to make money,” said Jill. “If you got a problem with the charges you should take it up with the Tory government. No councils have enough money anywhere thanks to the cuts.”
Cllr Gwyn John, council cabinet member for visible, leisure and regulatory services said: “There is no evidence that car parking charges are discouraging visitors to Barry Island. These car parks are used primarily by visitors to the area and the income received helps to fund the high level of front line services required at this most popular resort.
There is also free parking available on-street around the Barry Island resort, which generally has a two-hour waiting limit.”