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Flintshire County Council scraps car park charge plans

THE planned introduction of charges at Flintshire’s free car parks were scrapped after a county council U-turn.

The 11th-hour amendment to the authority’s 2013-14 budget, put forward by leader Aaron Shotton, was approved by councillors at County Hall on Friday afternoon.

Community leaders and business owners in Buckley had voiced concerns that introducing charges could have a major impact on trade in the town. Car parks in Connah’s Quay and Flint were also to become paid-for.

Cllr Carol Ellis, who represents Buckley Mountain, said the town had been listened to.

And she also welcomed a further addition to the budget – the bringing forward of the building of Buckley’s Connects centre by 12 months.

“I am delighted – it will be a great asset for the town and surrounding communities,” she said.

“It will increase footfall and will help encourage a supermarket in the town, especially as free car parking has been retained.

“People say Buckley is the forgotten town – today it has been listened to.”

Cllr Dennis Hutchinson said he was ‘delighted’ and ‘very grateful’ to Cllr Shotton.

However, two Buckley councillors – Richard Jones and Neville Phillips – voted against Cllr Shotton’s motion, while the previous council leader Arnold Woolley, who represents Buckley Bistre East, decided to abstain.

After the budget was approved on Friday, Cllr Shotton said car parks in Holywell will be made free from October, by which time a decision should have been made on those in Mold.

Holywell councillor Peter Curtis said: “After 20 years of fighting, I’m delighted with the removal of parking charges.

“To the people of Holywell it’s a big thing and I’m sure they will be grateful.”

An extra £135,000 was also set aside in the budget for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) to help council tenants facing financial difficulties after the Government’s welfare reforms kick in on April 1.

Cllr Shotton said the financial outlook across Britain is ‘bleak’ – and warned the council would need to make ‘big and brave’ decisions over the next few years.