At the February meeting of the council, the possibility of charging for parking on the foreshore car park was again discussed. The car park is an asset that the council already use to generate income for the community. The council operate an ice cream franchise from there and charge organisations who wish to use it for access and parking. These include film companies, Dŵr Cymru and the developer of Island House. This off-sets the costs of maintaining the car park and surrounding areas for the benefit of both the community and visitors. Without the current income generated by the assets, the cost would all fall on the precept generated by council tax. The community council receives no annual revenue income from any other source than our council taxpayers and any income we can generate.
To maintain the extensive network of public footpaths which Laugharne offers to community and visitors, the community council has agreed to take over responsibility for certain routes from Carmarthenshire CC using funds generated from the community. Through our grant system we help community organization provide play facilities, learning resources and community events. We will soon have 5 defibrillators distributed around the community. Two have been placed in key locations that visitors regularly use. To ease financial pressure on local taxpayers the council is looking to generate additional income from its assets, rather than its taxpayers. This is the main reason for introducing charges.
Most motorists and visitors expect to pay for car parking and from surveys carried out by consultants, visitors to Laugharne are prepared to pay. People come to Laugharne as it is a key iconic destination, not because it has a free car park. There have been a number of economic and planning reports over the last 30 years and both residents and businesses emphasise the need for additional car parking. The recent consultation with businesses by consultants employed by CCC as part of their Ten Towns initiative https://laugharne.carmarthenshire-towns.info/ showed their concerns about the lack of parking in the community. However, any further investment in parking in the community will have to be paid for to recoup the additional capital investment needed.
Initially the car parking charges will be administered through a LTCC owed ticket machine with all income coming to LTCC. We are not using a private car parking company or planning to obtain an operating license to be in a position to enforce non-payment of parking fees. Nor will Carmarthenshire CC manage the car park. This is a trust the motorist scheme with “enforcement” through ticketing formality not law. This is a system operated by Pendine CC which works very well. If it does not work, it will be reviewed. When it was introduced the parking income doubled. This allowed Pendine CC to reduce the precept and invest in additional community facilities.
Residents will not be expected to pay or display proof of residence. We would expect visitors staying in Laugharne’s hotels and B&Bs to pay, as well as people who are not Laugharne Community taxpayers and voters. Clearly if they do not or businesses tell people not to pay the community will lose income and investment in community facilities.