I AM pleased that car parking is to be free in Bridgend and Porthcawl until the end of July. This comes after residents and businesses have pleaded with the council to make this change to help restart the local economy.
Our businesses need every bit of help they can get at the moment as they re-open after months of lockdown. It would have been grossly unfair if customers trying to patronise shops in these town centres were penalised by having to pay for parking when they could visit the out of town sites where parking is free.
Our High Streets in Wales have taken a bashing in recent years and for many businesses, the lockdown could be the killer blow with some never re-opening. But BCBC has recognised that parking is key to attracting shoppers into a town – there needs to be enough and it needs to be cheap or, at the moment, free.
But there are other things that must be done. We also need public toilets to be re-opened. Residents in Porthcawl have been in touch to say that last weekend many visitors came to the town but there were no toilets open at all – usually public toilets can be augmented by using those in cafes and pubs but these remain closed.
I know that Porthcawl Town Council, which now provides the loos in Porthcawl, is waiting for guidelines from Welsh Government about how to open toilets safely. Many people will not be willing to go out shopping in town centres if they fear that spending a penny will be impossible.
Many people may be nervous about heading back out onto our streets again but without them, trade cannot return and there will be dire consequences for both jobs and incomes if people do not feel safe and encouraged to support businesses in our town centres again.