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Residents fear fall in beach use if Vale Council brings in car parking charges
Friday, 20 April 2012
‘It is a free amenity for local people...THEY WILL LOSE OUT’
BEACH users at Llantwit Major are concerned for the future of the area, after a plinth and two metal poles were erected in the beach car park, ahead of a possible move to impose charges for parking at the beach when using local amenities.
Llantwit Major beach is one of the last in the area not to have a parking fee in place, but it appears that this may change soon, despite protests when the suggestion was first made last year. (A petition with over 1,000 signatures was handed in to the council speaking out against the proposal).
Llanmaes resident, Tim Fowler, who uses the beach regularly in the summer months to surf, accused the council of “sneaking in” the charges without consultation.
He told The GEM: “I don’t have the money to go down there every day if they are going to charge.
“If you have a good month, people want to go down there every day. They won’t want to if they charge. It is a free amenity for local people. They will lose out.
“The beach cafe is concerned. People go down for 15 minutes for a walk and a coffee. They won’t go any more.”
These sentiments were echoed by Anthony May, a Llantwit resident who works at the beach cafe. He told The GEM that there hadn’t been any consultation from the council and that the business feared it would suffer as a result.
“We’re not very happy,” he said. “We work here, so why should we pay to park? When the workmen came, we approached them and they told us the plinth was for a parking meter. They told us that they would be installed in June ready for the summer. It will cost £1 per hour to park, and £5 per day. There was no mention of discounts.
“Dog walkers come every morning. Some people have been coming every day for 20 years and have a cup of tea or a slice of toast while they’re here. They don’t need it and they won’t come.”
Kenny Herbert, a lifeguard at Llantwit Major Leisure Centre, who also volunteers at the beach, instigated the petition last summer against the original proposals, and also voiced concerns at the lack of consultation with the community.
He said: “I gave the petition to local councillors. Gwyn John, of Llantwit First, accepted it. We’ve had nothing from the council to say either way what they were doing. Maybe it is still going ahead.
“The council took over the car park years ago to make sure nobody would take money from the community. That’s now changing – they need money!”
“It is stopping everybody and is bound to have a detrimental effect on the cafe.”
Coun Gwyn John confirmed to The GEM that he had received the petition and presented it to the full council last October as it was submitted too late for the July meeting, but this is also the last he had heard on the issue.
He said: “As far as I was aware, the decision was deferred in the cabinet meeting last May. I presented the petition to the mayor and full council in October and made a speech on the residents’ objections.
“I thought that the weight of the petition would have been strong enough but obviously this was not looked upon. This has come out of the blue.”
However, the Vale Council denied that the charges were imminent, and promised that there would be further consultation before any such charges were introduced. They stated that the plinth was installed at Llantwit Major to facilitate the option of charging for parking in the future.
A spokesperson told The GEM: “The principle of charging for a number of additional seasonal car parks was endorsed in 2010/11 by a Task and Finish Group, made up of selected elected members and then agreed by cabinet, along with a number of cost reduction measures.
“At Llantwit Major, car park charging would coincide with the management and enforcement of bye-laws that are shortly to come into force, aimed at addressing the long-standing problem of camping on the meadow area adjoining the car park.
“Before any charges are introduced, there will be further consultation and officers are considering the provision of season tickets for Vale residents who use these particular areas regularly.”
A letter submitted to The GEM (see page 3) from Llantwit resident Ian Williams pointed out that he could not see what grounds the council were using to introduce the charges. He stated: “The argument that we have to pay for car parking just like Penarth and Barry doesn’t work for me, because we have so few facilities compared to them.
“Of course, the meadow path is a new facility, but that was paid for by a European grant, which is funded by our general taxes.
“Let’s not forget that for the first time this summer, we will see full-time lifeguards being provided by the RNLI, rather than our council, so isn’t that a major cost saving for the public purse?”
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