Wiltshire Publications

Wiltshire Council responds to claims it is ruining Westbury

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 at 12:59 pm.

WILTSHIRE Council has responded to claims by a senior government minister that town centres are being ruined by high parking charges. 

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities, accused local councils of ruining small towns and undermining economic growth with high parking charges and over-zealous traffic wardens.

His comments came off the back of a record income for local authorities from parking with nationally £635million made from charges and fines.

In Wiltshire £7.6million was raised by the council last year which represented a £4.9million profit. It placed Wiltshire as the 11th most profitable local authority from parking (excluding the London Boroughs) and ahead of large city councils including Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and Sheffield.

Eric Pickles said, “The quality of parking in town centres is important; it should be convenient, safe and secure. Parking charges should be appropriate and not undermine the vitality of town centres and local shops, and parking enforcement should be proportionate.

“Anti-car measures are driving motorists into the arms of internet retailers and out of town superstores, taking their custom with them.

“Town Halls need to ditch their anti-car dogma. Making it easier to park will help support local shops, local jobs and tourism.”

In response to the claims by the Secretary of State, John Thompson, Wiltshire Council cabinet member responsible for car parking said, “Boosting Wiltshire’s economy is one of the council’s key priorities and so far, despite the national economic situation, it is faring relatively well. It is always regrettable when a local business closes, however Westbury has attracted retail investment in recent years and compares very favourably with neighbouring towns.

“Car parking cannot be looked at in isolation which is why the council services responsible for these areas work closely together. Any excess money made from parking charges is used to subsidise local buses. Lots of people in Wiltshire rely on buses to get to and from towns to do their shopping or get to work, either because they do not have cars, or only have one per household. Putting the money back into this vital service will not only help these families, but also local businesses.

“We will be reviewing our car parking policies next year, and any comments we receive from businesses and the public will be taken into account.”