Wiltshire Council's planned increase in parking permits for Marlborough: Claire Perry asked to spell out her views
High Street resident John Ford has written (March 12) to Devizes constituency MP Claire Perry asking her to spell out her position on Wiltshire Council's proposed £326 increase in the cost of annual parking permits. They are set to rise in August from £394 a year to £720 a year.
He writes: "Unfortunately your position with regard to the proposed increases in Parking Permit charges in Marlborough has not yet - as far as I am aware - been made clear. I wrote to you on the 4 January asking for clarification, but have had no response."
"I am writing now as I wanted to let you know that I will be putting together another flyer to be distributed to small businesses and residents in Marlborough later this month/early April. It would be good to include your thoughts - particularly as your response so far has been merely to ask Cllr Bridget Wayman (Wiltshire Cabinet member - Highways & Transport) to 'delay implementation'."
Mr Ford has researched comparative costs in neighbouring areas and beyond:
Hungerford - most expensive parking permit is an annual charge of £70.
Reading - free of charge from 1976 to 1st April 2017 - thereafter residents' annual permit - £30.
Southampton - most areas - annual permit £30.
Dorset - residents annual parking permit £70 with 50 per cent discount for the over 60's.
Sutton (Surrey) - one of the most densely populated areas in the country and also within the Greater London Area: Residents' annual parking permit £200.
Wandsworth - also Greater London: all zones - £166 & £200 for second permit.
Norwich - annual parking permit - 12 months for long vehicle £50 & 18 months at £70.
And he notes that Marlborough has no residents' parking scheme.
"I believe,” Mr Ford writes, "Wiltshire Council are profiteering from Parking Permit charges”. He then quotes two important official sources. First, the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (RTRA): "In setting [parking] charges Authorities should have regard to the need to cover the cost of providing the service. But are not permitted to set charges calculated to produce a profit."
And secondly the National Planning Policy Framework: "Authorities should never use parking charges just to raise revenue or as a local tax...The authority's auditor may decline to certify the accounts of a local authority that has used on street parking income and all enforcement income in a way that is not in accordance with the provisions of section 55 of RTRA."
After repeating criticisms of Wiltshire Council's original consultation, Mr Ford writes: "What is the point of legislation if regional authorities are able to completely ignore the legislators?"
"Local issues matter. Wiltshire Council has the motto "Where Everybody Matters" - really?"
"Do we - the voters - together with small businesses in your constituency - matter? It doesn't look like it. But - I for one - would love to have your position clarified so that I may include it in the flyer."
He has sent his letter not just to Mrs Perry, but to Councillor Bridget Wayman and others. Councillor Fogg has responded congratulating John Ford on his research and adding: "Of course, even if you pay that vast sum, there's no guarantee that you'll find a parking place."