Wiltshire Publications

Issue 502 – Car parking charges hit charity helpers

AS traders, shoppers, and councillors continue their protest about the effects that car parking charges are having on trade in the town, the plight has been highlighted of local volunteers and blood donors who are charged to park while they give up their time to help the community.

Westbury resident Tess Romang, who gives blood herself said, “I didn’t think it was right to be penalised for giving blood. It’s going to happen to almost every single blood donor here, and it could stop people from coming to donate.
“I don’t think we should have to pay for it, I think it should be entirely free for volunteers.”
While donors face charges of 40p for one hour or £1.10 for two hours’ parking, volunteers in the town’s charity shops are hit by charges for the whole day costing £5.60. For a volunteer who helps out for just two days a week, that adds up to £44.80 a month. If volunteers help out for more days, they may consider a season ticket, but this currently costs £491.40.
Charity shops, who often depend on volunteers, confirm it has got much harder with the charges.
David McCance of Imperial Charity in Warminster Road said, “It’s certainly made a difference to us. We can’t afford to pay for our volunteers to park. We’re down on people – we’ve had two staff leave because they can’t park and they can’t walk in.
“Our sales are not what they used to be, and we put it down to the car parking.”
Joy Cooper of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Shop in Maristow Street says that their customers continue to support them generously, especially as they are now the only air ambulance charity shop in the county. However, such generosity requires volunteers to man the shop.
Joy said, “With volunteers, we’ve had two or three who had said they would come, but they had to pay to park so we’ve lost out on that. We’re all very short on volunteers, but people aren’t as willing to volunteer because they have to pay and they’re giving their time for free.”
The Age UK shop says that they are fortunate that most of their volunteers live in Westbury within walking distance. However, the High Street shop says it has noticed sales going down, something that they put down to car parking charges as shoppers concentrate on necessary shopping and have less time for browsing before their parking ticket runs out.