Merthyr Road Credit: Katharine Worrell

Shoppers and businesses are angry as council axes free parking in Whitchurch car parks  

Visitors will no longer have two hours of free parking in the short-stay car parks

SMALL business owners and shoppers are angry at plans to start charging to park at two free car parks in Whitchurch.

They say it will harm small businesses on Merthyr Road, where a lot of on-street parking was removed several years ago, because shoppers will refuse to pay and stay away.

Under the new plans, shoppers will have to pay to use the two short-stay car parks behind the shops on Merthyr Road and Penlline Road.

Currently, visitors can park for free for up to two hours.

After the charges are introduced next winter,the nearest free car park will be Hailey Park which is a 25 minute walk away from Merthyr Road.

The news has not been well received.

“They don’t need more than an hour, nip to the bakers, get their veg and pop in the post office and they’re done!” said Leone Whitaker from the Cancer Research charity shop on Whitchurch Road. 

“This is going to make a big difference to everyone but especially the elderly,” added Sharon Churchil of Concord Extra Savers, also on Whitchurch Road.

The charges are due to be introduced by the coming winter at Penlline Road, which has 58 spaces, and Merthyr Road, which has 72 spaces. 

The car park behind the shops in Merthyr Road. Credit: Katharine Worrell

This is following a consultation carried out by Cardiff Council in which they asked people’s opinions on reducing free parking. The results were mixed.

But many people have now aired their frustrations on public groups on Facebook such as My Whitchurch.

“Another win for the big supermarkets,” said Margaret Murphy, suggesting that shoppers will just turn to chains instead of local independent traders.

“If I have to pay for parking somewhere, I avoid going there unless I have to,” said a Facebook user posting as Fiona RD.

“This is terrible news, not everyone is very mobile,” said Deborah Pat Baker, reflecting fears about how elderly and less able shoppers will manage.

The new fee for parking has not yet been announced. At the moment, in Merthyr Road car park there is a charge of £3.50 for customers who stay for three hours.

The sign which greets shoppers in Merthyr Road Car Park. Credit: Katharine Worrell

Cardiff Council says it wants to encourage people to be less reliant on cars, to use public transport and to reduce traffic and improve air quality. 

But residents are concerned about the inconvenience of public transport. While Llandaff, for example, is a nine-minute drive away, the journey by bus becomes 20 minutes. 

And to get by bus from Whitchurch Common to Merthyr Road shops would take less than two minutes but would cost £2.40.

“A lot of elderly people can still drive, which is great, but they can’t walk all the way from the Common to the shops,” added Ms Whitaker.

This is going to make a big difference”

Sharon Churchill, Concord Extra Savers

Cardiff council say they will use any revenue to improve other facilities.

“Difficult decisions had to be made. Any surplus income will be reinvested into highway and transport schemes so we can continue to improve public transport, walking and cycling facilities across the city,” said a spokesperson from Cardiff Council