WESTBURY Town councillors have voiced their objections to the way Wiltshire Council is treating Westbury in their proposals for future car parking charges.
Wiltshire Council will be making changes to car parking charges across the county in April 2011 after a review of parking fees.
However, the town council is unhappy with proposals that car parking charges for Westbury should be the same as those imposed in larger and more economically vibrant towns.
It is proposed that the new charges will be implemented according to a banding system, which would place Westbury in band three along with other market towns such as Marlborough, Bradford-on-Avon, Devizes, and Warminster. The town council has objected to placing Westbury in band three, suggesting it would be more appropriate to place Westbury within band four with reduced parking charges.
Cllr Stephen Andrews, chair of the car parks working group on the town council said, “We feel that Westbury is in the wrong band. We’re lumped in with all the market towns and yes, Westbury is a market town, but we’re in a very different situation to places like Marlborough and Devizes which are quite vibrant economic centres.”
“We think we should be put into band four, which is for smaller towns and villages.”
Car parking in the town has been a hot subject of debate since Wiltshire Council reduced free parking in the town from two hours to one hour in July, with a charge of £1 made for those who wish to stay for up for two hours.
Cllr Andrews continued, “The effect of this charging would be far more pronounced in Westbury than it would be in other towns. We’ve already seen that since July, we’ve had quite a significant fall off in trading. One business has suggested a fall of up to 30% of turnover in business.”
“Certainly people’s perceptions are that there aren’t so many people in the town and there don’t seem to be so many people parking there either.”
The town council recently responded to Wiltshire Council’s parking strategy consultation, through a response compiled by the car parks working group. The working group identified that the most important objective for a car parking strategy was to support the local economy (by making it easy for shoppers and tourists to visit) and facilitate development growth, while pointing out that the recently introduced car parking charge has in fact had a detrimental effect on businesses in Westbury.
The consultation has now closed and Wiltshire Council will feed back to Area Boards between late September and mid-November. “We will wait now to see what they make of the consultation, and hopefully we will be able to put our case forward at an area board or some other venue in more detail,” said cllr Andrews.
A formal decision will be made by the council’s cabinet in December.