Councillors at last night’s meeting of the Planning Committee (Monday 05 September) expressed real concern over the relative cost of a season ticket for a central Marlborough car park, when compared to the equivalent in most central car parks in any of Northern Wiltshire’s other market towns.
Councillors voted to to write to the Cabinet Member for Highways, Councillor Mark McClelland to seek an explanation for the wide variation in rates across the county and express Members’ desire for a fairer process to be adopted.
This follows a recent consultation procedure, but here at the Planning Meeting, set out in black and white were the relative costs.
If you live in the middle of Marlborough and have a car, you would be very lucky to have a parking space so a season ticket would be almost a must. Likewise if you work in the middle of Marlborough, you would need a season ticket which, in any of the three main car parks – George Lane, Kennet Place, Hyde Lane – will now cost £892 for a year, or more than £17 per week.
No other town has such a high cost for all their car parks. In every other Northern Wiltshire market town car owners have a choice. In Chippenham, whilst the cost of an annual season in either of the two very central car parks at £1,129 is notably more than the Marlborough ‘flat rate’, the same for either of the town’s two other car parks is much less, at £748 and £669. In Devizes, the Sheep St and Wharf car park season tickets cost the same as the Marlborough ‘flat rate’, but there are other significantly cheaper alternatives in the other car parks. In all the other Northern Wiltshire towns the season ticket costs are far less than in Marlborough, in any car parks.
So it is only in Marlborough where there isn’t a ‘reasonable’ alternative cost for a season ticket.
Will a season ticket guarantee a parking space? No. Will it give any priority? No. Will a season ticket for one car park be valid in any of the others – if there is no space? That’s not made clear in the notice from Wiltshire Council, but as the cost is the same in all it should be so. But without clarification, any assumption would be unwise.
Councillors were also concerned about the change in policy regarding blue badge holders and off-street car parks, where anyone displaying a badge will no longer be able to park free in any of these car parks. Normal charges (and penalties for non-payment) will apply.
Car parking is purely the responsibility of Wiltshire Council. The Town Council has no say in how much is charged, in any of the car parks, or – now – any opportunity for a ‘free’ day as used to be the case.