COUNCILLORS have been urged to not support free morning parking in three south Ceredigion towns because of the “stark wider financial challenges that Ceredigion County Council is facing” and the “lack of any tangible evidence” to suggest free parking trials in Llandysul and Tregaron has had any impact on the local economy.

A report to be put before Ceredigion County Council’s Thriving Communities Scrutiny and Overview Committee on Monday, 23 October, poured cold water on a proposal to give two hours free parking before 11am in car parks in Lampeter, Aberaeron and Cardigan.

The report calls for the proposal to be abandoned, with figures showing it would cost the council in the region of £45,000 in lost revenue to implement.

That loss “would be in addition to the currently forecast £40,000 per annum which is lost due to the free parking being afforded at the Pay and Display Car Parks at Tregaron and Llandysul, amounting to a total loss in income of up to £85,000,” the report said.

“We are unaware of any tangible evidence to suggest free parking at Llandysul and Tregaron has had any impact on the local economy,” the council report said.

“To retain the free parking arrangements at Llandysul and Tregaron while introducing a two-hour free parking arrangement in three of Ceredigion’s towns would, as well as have a negative financial impact for the authority, further move us away from the rationalisation of the off street parking offer in Ceredigion.

“Should the proposal be implemented it could potentially result in an income loss of up to £130,000 (net) based on historic ticket sales.”

If moved forward, the report said, the proposal would need to be funded by either raising council tax or cutting budgets of other service areas.

“Parking can be an emotive and high-profile matter which is subject to ongoing comment and debate,” the report said.

“A populist view is that free parking is a positive and has benefits in generating footfall and economic prosperity.

“However, it would appear that there is little tangible evidence to support this view in reality.

“While providing more free parking may be well received it is less clear what tangible benefits would be derived from doing so.”