A number of businesses located in Llanelli town centre are unhappy about changes to parking in the town and the way it has been introduced.
Aled James of the Savoy has started a petition and he says it has been signed by over 50 people, many of whom are business owners.
Mr James claims that the changes have been snowballed through by the council without any consultation with businesses until after work had been carried out.
Mr James said that business owners were unhappy at the loss of the parking bays around their shops, which he says are used mainly by disabled people.
Traders including Sewards in the market, D & A, Amy’s Fashions, Solid Gold, Cadno Music and the Sheesh have all aired their concerns and claim that the changes would not be good for business. Many more have signed the petition.
Mr James said: “I understand if they do this when we have one of the big events, but not now when we are all struggling. Look outside, the town is dead. We need the bays, people come in, park and the guys in the market actually take bags of fruit and veg to the vehicles for elderly people. We have not been consulted. Some people from the council came round a few days ago but the work is almost complete. They are doing this at a time when we are being allowed to open up inside for trading.”
Andrew Jones of D & A in the market said: “I have not been consulted until after the decision has been made. Two council officials came round yesterday asking me what I think of it. It is a bit late to ask when you have already done the work. I can’t see how it can be a good idea to stop people coming into town in their cars. Trostre has the facility for cars. I don’t mind cafes having more room. What I don’t want is stopping people being able to park close by and come to my shop. We have an LTC mobility shop here, the disabled won’t be able to pick up their scooters. I think they should open up Stepney Street to cars. Whenever you make a decision like this you should go to the businesses. It hasn’t been done.”
When we visited today we saw most of the bays in use with people using the opportunity to nip in and park for an hour. Cafes already had seating areas out on the pavement. It is difficult to see how more seating and tables in the roadway would benefit the town centre businesses unless you are a bar or cafe. The question some business owners were asking was ‘who is going to be sitting in these seats as the existing ones are empty’.
Llanelli has been hit hard by the restrictions around COVID-19. The town centre has been adapted with one way walkways, pavements are covered in sticker signs, people stand at the entrances to the market and St. Elli Centre counting people in and out. The town looks quiet and drab for the time of year when it would otherwise be reasonably lively. Events have attracted visitors but some business owners claim that most come for the event and then go off to shop at Trostre. Car is King with most households having at least two cars. Out of town malls facilitate the polluting beasts free of charge and they are as busy as ever. Mr James and other business owners are calling on the council to backtrack on the decision to ban the car from areas of the town. Mr James wants to know whose idea it was in the first place.
Cllr John Jenkins said: “I hope that there has been full consultation on the changes. It is not for the council to tell businesses what is good or bad for them. I hope this has come from the businesses not just forced on them. Consultation will always be the key. It is people’s businesses we are talking about. When I heard the idea I thought they were trying at least. My instinct is that this was happening because businesses had said they needed it.”
We contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to ask who made the decision to implement the changes and why they did not consult businesses.
Leader of the council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “These changes will mean people visiting our town centres can queue safely or walk through busy areas without having to mind passing traffic. As well as providing space for safe social distancing, pedestrianising these streets also opens up opportunities for businesses to serve their customers outdoors. We sincerely hope that this brings more people in to our town centres to enjoy shopping, eating and relaxing with friends in a safe environment. Bringing in a temporary order gives us the flexibility to make changes if needed, and we are keen to do what’s right for each town. If anyone has any representations to make about these changes, we’d like to hear it.”