Wiltshire Publications

Issue 485 – Car parking charges will hit next week

THE controversial new car parking charges will be introduced in Westbury and across the county next week.

From Monday 18th April, the free one hour parking will be scrapped, with drivers having to pay 40p for an hour, £1.20 for 2 hours or £2.10 for up to 3 hours in the town’s short stay spaces.
Long stay charges will be £2.40 for 4 hours, £3.20 for 5 hours, or £5.60 for all day.
Before last July, shoppers in Westbury enjoyed two hours’ free parking in the town. Free parking was then reduced to one hour and in December, Wiltshire Council approved plans to scrap free parking completely.
Local shoppers, traders and councillors have all criticised the plans, saying they will be the death knell for town centre shops, already hard hit by the recession, the internet and the 20% VAT rate.
Westbury Town Council put forward their concerns in their response to the council’s car parking consultation but have since complained that their views have been “neither acknowledged or regarded” by Wiltshire Council. Opposition to the charges has been growing throughout the county as well.

Losing out in banding system

Wiltshire Council say the new charges will still ensure that Wiltshire is “competitively priced” compared to neighbouring authorities, and describe their proposals as “a more consistent car parking policy” for the whole county.
However, Westbury town councillors have raised their concerns that Westbury is being treated unfairly in the banding system. The town has been placed in band 3 along with other market towns, whereas councillors believe the limited economic strength of the town centre means it should have been placed in band 4, which would result in lower charges. Also in band 3, along with Westbury, Warminster and Melksham are Devizes, Malmesbury and Marlborough.

Buy back option refused

The new strategy offered market towns the chance to buy back a proportion of their short stay spaces in order to offer some free parking. However, last November Westbury Town Council refused what they described as a “ridiculous” offer from Wiltshire Council to pay £500 per space per annum – a figure that would equate to £61,000 in comparison to the current figure of £16,600.
Other towns in Wiltshire have slammed the changes in car parking charges and have also not agreed to take up Wiltshire Council’s offer to pay to keep some free spaces.