Plans to charge at Welwyn car parks revealed

BLUNDERING officials have mistakenly revealed plans to introduce parking charges into two more Times Territory car parks.

Welwyn Hatfield Council has extended its contract with CP-Plus – the management firm which took over the running of six council-owned car parks last year – to now include the High Street and Lockleys Drive facilities in Welwyn.

It means motorists will have to pay to park in some 100 spaces which are currently free to use.

The move was announced in a press release sent to the WHT by press officers working for CP-Plus – to the embarrassment of colleagues at Welwyn Hatfield Council, who were forced into claiming that no final decision had been made.

A council spokeswoman said plans were at the “very early stages” and that any changes to parking in Welwyn would not be done without consulting residents, businesses and Welwyn Parish Council first.

The spokeswoman said: “Working together with Welwyn Parish Council and Hertfordshire County Council, a parking survey was carried out in October 2010.

“Using the findings from this survey we are in the very early stages of looking at ways to improve the parking situation in Welwyn.

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“As soon as a proposal is finalised, we will be following due process and consulting with local residents, businesses and our partners, including the Welwyn Parish Council.”

That was in stark contrast to CP-Plus’ statement, which definitively stated: “Solar powered Pay and Display machines will serve around 100 spaces when the car parking charges come into place later this year.”

This week, however, a CP-Plus spokesman said the press release had been sent by mistake.

“We would like to reiterate what the council has stated – that no decision has been made to date and we are working closely with the council moving forward,” he said.

“However, due to an error on our part, we prematurely put out an announcement regarding aspects of our relationship moving forward.

“We would like to apologise for any misunderstanding or inconvenience caused.”

John Blackburn, vice-chairman of Welwyn Parish Council, was not against the idea of introducing a parking scheme to the village.

But he aired concerns about the way Welwyn Hatfield Council seemed to be imposing restrictions with little consideration for the public’s views.

Citing the recent decision to introduce a three hour parking restriction at King George V playing fields in WGC, despite residents’ protestations, Cllr Blackburn said: “It would be nice if we were consulted about this sort of thing.”