Wiltshire Publications

Issue 494 – “Westbury should run its own car parks”

COULD free car parking be re-introduced to Westbury, with Westbury Town Council in control of the town’s car parks?

Town councillors Mike Cuthbert-Murray and Sue Ezra say they are fed up with the car parking charges introduced by Wiltshire Council, and are horrified by the detrimental effect charges are having on the town centre. They intend to put forward a motion to Westbury Town Council, asking the council to investigate taking on the car parks and re-introducing two hours of free parking.
The move comes after months of concern and complaints from Westbury traders and shoppers, who state that car parking charges are having a severe impact on the town. Since free parking was abolished by Wiltshire Council in April, some town centre shops have moved out of town, blaming the charges, while others have reported a big downturn in takings.
It also follows a call from Bill Douglas, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Chippenham, who has called for the car parks to be handed over to local towns to run after a £500,000 shortfall from the new car parking strategy was predicted. He said, “I repeat again to the Conservatives, hand the car parks over to our town councils now, and let us decide on parking charges. I am quite sure that local communities would be capable of devising a scheme that won’t lose another half million in the next six months.”
Westbury town councillor, Mike Cuthbert-Murray said, “Something has to be done, and now we’re doing it. We’ve monitored the situation over the last couple of months and it is having an adverse affect on people using the town centre.”

Free parking

With Wiltshire Council’s car parking strategy in tatters after a £500,000 shortfall was predicted, the two councillors hope that now is a good time to ask Wiltshire Council to consider their proposal. They are suggesting that Westbury Town Council purchase the car parks for a negligible sum, and then find the money for maintenance from the sum that was, until the new strategy was enforced, paid to Wiltshire Council to run the car parks. Cllr Cuthbert-Murray believes that the town council could run the car parks – and provide free car parking – for less, and thinks the money can be found.
He said, “We’ve found the money before and I think people and traders will support the town council on this one. If we’ve got free parking and no one else does, it will draw people back to Westbury.”

Push ahead

Cllr Sue Ezra added, “If they [Wiltshire Council] want to charge us for the car parks, then we’ll have to look at that. They cannot be getting proper revenue from the car parks as people just aren’t using them – the Warminster Road car park is a joke. This is the time to try and push it ahead. We cannot sit back, we need to move the town forward.”
Cllrs Ezra and Cuthbert-Murray will take their motion to the town council on Monday 5th September, where they will ask the council to put together a draft proposal to cllr Dick Tonge, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways and transport.