AT THE heart of the conversation in Penarth since traders opened again has been the age-old Penarth question: is parking actually a problem?

Penarth Town Council’s idea to introduce a traffic-free safe zone for Windsor Road and Lower Glebe Street has intensified the debate, with some saying the plans will add to parking issues.

Others believe the area doesn’t have a parking problem, and needs to move to a greener model, and less traffic on Windsor Road in exchange for a more appealing space will help that to happen.

Business owner Peter Knowles, who owns shops at Ludlow Lane and the Esplanade, believes ideas for less parking in the town's hub might bring more people to Penarth, but only if restrictions are enforced.

Penarth Times: Business owners Peter Knowles (right) and Andy BradshawBusiness owners Peter Knowles (right) and Andy Bradshaw

A Vale council initiative finalised last week means a camera car will identify problem parkers, such as those stopping in bus stops, but Mr Knowles says the real problem lies in how long people are parking for.

“My shop on the seafront has the same car parked outside for days on end, and it’s never been dealt with,” he said.

There are 523 spaces in the town centre, with the town council’s ideas proposing 37 more – 27 of them for Plassey Street.

“I often hear people are struggling to get a parking space, and you have to ask why that is happening,” he added.

“The problem is the timed spaces here are not managed properly. If you exceed the time and you’re punished for it, those spaces roll over and we’d have a system that I think would work.

Penarth Times: Camera Car introduced by the Vale councilCamera Car introduced by the Vale council

“The issue is the system as it has been only catches those who are parked obviously illegally, and the rest are ignored."

Betina Skovbro, who owns Brod Danish Bakery on Glebe Street, said: “I’m worried that all the talk in Penarth about parking filters to other places and then potential visitors avoid coming here.

“Before I opened I was worried because I thought there was no parking. I was quite surprised by the amount of parking I found.

“When I come here as a visitor I find it is quite difficult to sit somewhere and have a snack outside.

“I think people want a space where they can do that, without lots of parking.

“Maybe we need to lose some of the traffic and parking from Windsor Road and Glebe Street to make a nice-looking pedestrianised space.

“I understand businesses need their deliveries, but perhaps those deliveries can be done by 11am and then until 6pm we can have a no-parking/traffic zone.”

A Vale council spokesman said: “The enforcement of parking controls in Penarth centre is an important issue and one we have prioritised with regular foot patrols to identify infringements.

“More parking spaces will be created along the Esplanade and nearby streets, while the overnight parking of motor caravans and large goods vehicles along sections of Cliff Hill and Cliff Road will be prohibited following complaints from residents.”