The row over car parking charges in Westbury took a dramatic new twist this week with an embarrassing climbdown by Wiltshire Council.
The new authority had demanded £31,000 a year from Westbury Town Council to keep one hour’s free parking in the town centre.
But, following revelations by White Horse News that other Wiltshire towns were not being charged to keep their car parks free, Westbury Town Council has managed to renegotiate the deal.
Now the town council will pay £16,600, roughly half what was previously demanded.
The new deal was offered by Wiltshire Council at a meeting with the town council’s Car Parking Working Group last week. And the deal was accepted at a special meeting of Westbury Town Council on Monday night this week.
Town councillors were still angry about how Wiltshire Council had acted but believe a better deal has been secured for the town.
It will mean the car parks in the High Street and Warminster Road will have one hour’s free parking, with the new charges starting in July this year.
Councillor Mike Hawkins told the meeting on Monday night, “I still think it stinks and I still think this needs a proper consultation. We should have a proper breakdown of costs of car parks in Westbury.”
Cllr Stephen Andrews commented, “We’ve got a better deal. It’s still a lot of money but it’s still a better deal for the town,” while mayor Sue Ezra added, “We’ve tried the best we can for the town and the traders.”
Cllr Russell Hawker, commenting on the talks with Wiltshire Council, said, “We gave them a pretty rough time; I think they got the message,” and he added, “I don’t think there’s any more scope for negotiation.”
The row over car parking charges in Westbury started in March when Wiltshire Council demanded £30,800 from Westbury Town Council for one hour’s free parking in the town. Previously, Westbury had paid just £8,300 for two hours of free parking.
Westbury Town Council ‘reluctantly’ agreed to the increase but said the demands were ‘extortionate’.
But, following the revelations by White Horse News that Westbury was being treated unfairly compared to other towns in the county, the town council demanded a new deal. There was an angry backlash in the town after it emerged that towns such as Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon and Devizes have not been asked to contribute to the cost of their free parking.
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