THE CHANGES to the free car parking provision in Westbury are already proving highly unpopular, before they have even been introduced.
As of Thursday 1st April parking in the High Street and Warminster Road car parks will be free for one hour instead of two, with an 80p charge to stay for a maximum of two hours.
Wiltshire Council had previously subsidised the provision of two hours’ free car parking in the car parks, with a contribution of £8,300 from Westbury Town Council.
However Wiltshire Council has announced that it will no longer be doing this, saying that operating the car parks costs them £80,000 a year and are running at a £70,000 loss.
On Monday 1st March Westbury Town Council reluctantly voted to up their contribution to Wiltshire Council to £30,800, which will preserve an hour of free car parking.
It remains to be seen what will happen next year, when Wiltshire Council is due to enact an overhaul of all the car parking charges in Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Council’s decision to stop subsidising the car parks proved unpopular with Westbury Town Council, calling the increase in charges “extortionate”.
The news hasn’t proved popular with traders in the town either, who are concerned with the effect the change will have on an already fragile economic situation.
The White Horse News spoke to traders around the town, here’s what they had to say:
Gary Davies, of GL and DM Davies Ltd, said, “I don’t believe in charging for parking in town centres.
“Big stores don’t charge. I think we need to have the town centre free, but it’s decided and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Cherol North, shop manager at Dorothy House said, “One of my volunteers has said that they are probably going to have to leave now because of the parking. The staff are volunteers and work four hour shifts, so it adds up.
“I think it will affect customers, it’s got to, it’s a big change.”
Olivia Rivers, shop manager at Sue Ryder Care said, “Very few people can get around the shops in town in an hour. People used to moan that two hours wasn’t long enough. I don’t think much of it at all, I’m sure it will close some stores.”
Kevin Greatwood from Kevin’s Menswear said, “Westbury needs to encourage people to come into the shops. Big car parks at Mole Valley Farmers and supermarkets like Asda at Trowbridge are free and Westbury needs to be on a par with them to encourage people here.”
Tracey Foot, who works in Cards Plus said, “I think it will cripple the town. People are not going to bother to come in if they have to pay. I think people will start parking on private roads as well and are going to upset people.”
Chris Longworth of Cards Plus added, “I think Tracey said it all really. It’s not going to do the town any favours, it’s not going to help.”
Suzann Large from the Hair Company said, “It’s just going to kill the town. We’re supposed to be encouraging people to come into the town but this will just stop people wanting to come in.”