The decision by Wiltshire Council’s Conservative Cabinet to bring in car parking charges on Sundays and Bank Holidays from 19 November is a wrong one in so many ways.
First it will hit our High Street and town centre businesses, many of which are already struggling against out of town and online competition.
Second it adds extra cost and pressure on our town centre residents and families. Parking is difficult enough for them. At least on Sundays and public holidays they could relax about moving their cars. Not any more they can’t.
Third this is bad news for our town centre church congregations. Many may have to cut short their worship or curtail conversations with friends to avoid a parking ticket.
Fourth it creates another barrier to attracting visitors at a time when tourism is becoming increasingly important.
Fifth it cuts right across the hard work of so many teams working so hard to sustain our town centres and the jobs that hang on their success.
We want vibrant, thriving town centres, not empty shop “ghost towns” where crime and vandalism grow. These charges go against the first and help the second.
Finally there is another reason why all this is bad and that is the way in which it has been done. Wiltshire Councillors of all Parties are becoming increasingly concerned about how our Council consultations are conducted and how the Council responds to the results.
The public and many town councils who replied to this consultation said a clear “no” to this plan. Yet it is happening just as planned. Such behaviour shows contempt for consultations and that is a bad thing.
That is made even worse, as in this case, when the plan and results of the consultation are not even the subject of a Cabinet discussion let alone a full Council debate and vote.
The Prime Minister has declared that “austerity is over”. So enough is enough. We need to debate these charges and vote on them. To do that we need 5,000 Wiltshire residents to sign our petition demanding such a debate. They can do so by going to SignMe.org.uk/1485.
It is time to put sustaining our town centres first! I hope Councillor colleagues from all sides will come together to do just that by throwing out these new car parking charges.
Councillor Ian Thorn,
Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on Wiltshire Council