Under pressure across the county over increased parking charges, Wiltshire Council has come up with some Christmas concessions as car drivers are hit by rising inflation and fuel prices.
Today (Tuesday) the council agreed to proposals which will mean Christmas shoppers pay less, charities will get help for key workers supporting vulnerable people and Blue Badge holders will get a better deal.
Cabinet member with responsibility for parking, Dick Tonge announced the following recommendations when cabinet met today:
* An extra free hour for motorists when they pay for their car parking in car parks across the county from December 19 to December 24 (inclusive). Details and a token which is needed to receive one hour’s free parking will be given in the council’s next edition of Your Wiltshire magazine due out in November.
* Service permits will be extended to include registered charities that need to load and unload vehicles and peripatetic workers who deal with vulnerable people.
* Consistent arrangements will be made for Blue Badge holders which will mean a better deal for many.
The recommendations came after the council heard evidence from a report regarding the impact of parking charge changes, which looked at various factors including the national and local economy, retail trends, the relationship between parking and market towns, and evidence from other local authorities.
It also highlighted the mixed results other authorities have had when reducing their charges and that many other factors have impacted on the UK’s high street, and indicated that there are signs that some of Wiltshire’s towns are bucking the national trend.
The report was intended to make as much evidence available as possible so an informed debate can take place at the next full council meeting on November 8.
Dick Tonge told Marlborough News Online: “All residents in Wiltshire will receive this one free hour car parking voucher when their ‘Your Wiltshire’ magazine drops through their door in November which will no doubt be a welcome boost for shoppers and traders in the run up to Christmas.”
“The service permits will make life easier for particular staff looking after vulnerable people working in charity shops and for those vehicles loading and unloading goods outside their premises. The changes to blue badge holders will also make them easier to use.”
The concessions will have little effect in Marlborough, which has the highest parking charges, along with Salisbury, because it is considered a well-heeled town.
Moves are still likely, under the new Localism legislation, for the town council to control parking itself.