Wiltshire Publications

Issue 467 – Effects of new car parking charges felt in town centre

RETAILERS and users of the town centre have been noticing the effects of the new car parking charges.

The new charges for the High Street and Warminster Road car parks have now been in place for a month. Shoppers previously enjoyed two hours’ free parking. However, now they only have one hour free car parking, with a charge of £1 made to those who wish to stay for up to two hours.
Chris Longworth, manager of Cards Plus said, “I’ve been talking to other shops, and they’re all complaining because of the hour. People are just not stopping and taking their time, they just come in for bits and pieces, not a full shop. It makes such an impact on a small place, and it has affected all types of shops. It’s not like a 30p token gesture, either.”
Cherol North, shop manager for Dorothy House said, “For us, it hasn’t made a big change as far as business is concerned, but the attitude is that people are not happy. A lot of our volunteers walk but now have to pay more money if they drive, that doesn’t go down well as they come in for a good cause. Customers don’t spend as long in the shop as they would normally – you rush if you’ve only got an hour. And I notice the car park is much emptier now.”
Alexis Glover of Tiddlers Toddler Group, who meet at the Paragon Hall on Wednesday mornings said, “Our numbers have dropped because of the parking. We run for an hour and 45 minutes, so people have to pay, and £1 is a lot. The government is pushing these activities and we put in a lot of hard work, but then the council does that. It feels like a complete rip-off, and people are saying it will break the town.”
Meanwhile, a Westbury resident has come up with her own way of protesting about the new charges, by cancelling her direct debit for her council tax. “My actions come from outrage at the unfairness of how Westbury is being treated compared with other local market towns, and the impact on Westbury life,” she said. “I was interested to learn while in the bank cancelling the direct debit that lots of other people have done the same thing. I’m not a trouble maker for the sake of making trouble, but I do wonder if there is a potential campaign path here. Surely the extra cost and inconvenience of having to chase and bank council tax money will make the council rethink how sensible a decision it was to bully Westbury the way it has.”
The new car parking charges will stay in place until Wiltshire Council completes a county-wide review of parking fees, for implementation in April 2011. People are able to submit their comments through Wiltshire Council’s consultation portal at http://consult.wiltshire.gov.uk/portal via the link to the LTP Parking Strategy. The consultation will run until Friday 3rd September, and then the council will feed back to Area Boards between late September and mid November. A formal decision will be made by the council’s cabinet in December 2010.