Businesses at a shopping centre are planning to recruit more staff after car park charges were slashed there.
Parking fees at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham town centre were reduced by between 55 per cent and 38 per cent just before Christmas – and it’s already providing a big boost.
Among those looking to take on more staff are two restaurants, Frankie and Benny’s and Pizza Express while other businesses are equally delighted about the new tariffs.
Peter Cross, manager of Frankie and Benny’s restaurant, said: “This is really good news which we’ve been waiting to hear for some time.
“It puts Eagles Meadow on a level playing field with the town centre car parks and will attract more shoppers from a wider area as word of the reduction spreads.
“I can see us having to take on more staff this year to handle the extra business it’s already bringing in.
“At the moment we have a base level of two staff in the restaurant but we may well have to increase that to three, which would mean taking on two or three more people.”
It was a similar story at nearby Pizza Express where manager Chris O’Connor also predicted that cheaper parking would result in him boosting his workforce.
He said: “The reduction in charges has already brought in more business for us over the Christmas period and if it keeps up like this we’ll definitely have to take on extra staff, and that might be two or three people.
“One thing we’ve already noticed since the charges went down is that people who come in to eat with us aren’t constantly checking their watches to make sure they haven’t over-run their parking time.
“This is something that is going to grow and will really help to put Eagles Meadow on the map.”
The change has come about because the lease held by car park operators Vinci has been terminated by mutual agreement and another company has taken it over.
The new operators are multi-national car park specialists Secure Parking who have more than a million car parking spaces in 11 countries world-wide.
Among the changes is a new one hour rate of £1 for people who just need to pop by for a quick visit.
The two hour rate has been cut from £3.10 to £1.50 while the three hour charge is down from £4.49 to £2, with a reduction in the four hour fee from £5.60 to £3.50.
Meanwhile, the evening rate has been reduced from £2.50 to £1.50 for people going to the cinema, tenpin bowling or to eat at one of the centre’s restaurants.
It was excellent news according to Ann Littler, manager of the Wallis ladies’ wear store.
She said: “As far as we’re concerned this has been wonderful news. We’re over the moon about it and so are our customers.
“For the first time ever over Christmas we’ve had people coming in to the store from a much wider area – places like Shrewsbury, Llandudno and Flintshire – who have been attracted by the cheaper parking.
“After coming here for the first time they were also telling us what a nice place Eagles Meadow is.
“All this has meant that our business was well up over Christmas.”
Vicky Smallwood, assistant manager at The Entertainer toy store, said the cut in parking charges was “the best Christmas present we could have had”.
She added: “We’ve just had the best Christmas in 16 years and the parking has had a lot to do with that. I’m sure we’re now going to have the best ever January.”
It was a theme echoed by Lynn Valance, manager of Clarks shoe shop, who said: “I think we were busier than we would have been over Christmas because of the cheaper parking.
“We’ve had a lot of people ringing up and asking if it was true what they’d heard about the reduction and then, when we confirmed it for them, saying they would be coming to Eagles Meadow.
“This shows that miracles can happen!”
Manager of the Topshop and neighbouring Topman fashion stores, Jess Daniels, said: “The parking move has definitely been a boost for our business so far.
“We’re now getting people coming in from areas outside Wrexham, like Oswestry and Llangollen.
“It gives the centre a chance to compete more equally with everyone else.”
Jo Stringfellow, manager of Boots, said one thing she had noticed since the reduction was the amount of time people were now spending in the store.
She said: “In the past people who had only paid for a short stay would dash in to pick up something from the pharmacy and then rush straight out again to avoid a ticket.
“They’re now able to spend more time shopping and are staying to take advantage of our other services.”
Sisters Kerry Penzer, 25, of Oswestry and, Katie Penzer, 23, from Acrefair, Wrexham were delighted the car parking charges had been reduced.
Katie said: “The thing is there are a lot of our favourite shops here and we like to shop here.“We saw Facebook that the charges had been reduced and that’s why we are here. We are made up and it makes things so much easier.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “The new owners have managed over the past six months to change the set-up at the centre so they now have control over the charges.
“The reductions, which started with free parking on Christmas Eve, have been very well received by customers, retailers and leisure operators alike.
“Our observations of the car park over the past couple of weeks show many more vehicles using it than in early December.”
“It’s clear that the new tariffs are helping to generate extra business and a number of tenants lead us to believe that they are looking at taking on extra staff to cope with the increase.
“One of the unexpected benefits of cheaper car parking will happily be an increase in the level of employment at the centre.
“With its range of restaurants and leisure facilities, Eagles Meadow has a strong evening economy and this will also be boosted by the new evening parking rate of £1.50 which, given the fact that it’s secure, covered parking is a real bargain.”