Jon Hubbard

Liberal Democrat Wiltshire Councillor for Melksham South and Town Councillor for Melksham Spa Learn more

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Wiltshire Council Excessive Prices Means No Free Parking for Melksham

by Jon Hubbard on 30 November, 2010

Last night at the Policy and Resources Committee meeting of Melksham Town Council we reluctantly voted to cease negotiations with Wiltshire Council over the future of free parking in Melksham’s car parks.

Wiltshire Council is changing its pricing policy to have a common charge across the entire county for parking, with towns forced into four bands. This means that you will pay the same in Melksham as you will in Warminster, Westbury, Calne, Amesbury etc. It also means that the existing arrangement of one hours free parking being offered in Church Street Car Park will go.

The town was offered the opportunity to “buy” spaces in some of our car parks where one hours free parking would be offered. These would cost £500 per year each. This cost would have to be passed back to local residents via the Town Council’s precept (the extra charged on your council tax for Melksham Town Council) and would have required an increase of 1% for every 6 spaces. Quite rightly the council felt this did not offer good value for money.

Additionally, the Town Council could only have reserved a maximum of 25% of the spaces in any car park for the 1 hours free parking. This would have resulted in queues as people waited for the designated “free” spaces whilst ignoring empty chargeable spaces.

I find it ironic that the Conservative Administration at County Hall are willing to spend millions of public money on “invest to save” schemes, including refurbishing County Hall and providing a state-of-the-art town centre library for Trowbridge, whilst squeezing every last penny out of our market towns, such as Melksham, to pay for it. Where is the investment in our communities?

People will stop using local shops and town centres if it is cheaper and easier to shop elsewhere. This is another example of short term thinking from a tired administration that is running out of ideas. Let’s invest in our towns and make them vibrant and popular communities.

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One Response

  1. Cllr Russell Hawker - Westbury says:

    You are so right.

    Westbury Town Council has rejected the offer to “buy” free spaces too. Westbury Town Council has been subsidising free short term parking for years but at a cost of more like £200pa per space for 2 hours (recently cut to 1 Hr).

    Westbury has a very weak town centre compared to any other nearby town and should not be in Band 3 anyway. It’s simply unfair to charge Westbury car spaces at the same level as Melksham, Devizes, Warminster etc.

    The charges should be related to the economic value of the spaces – ie. what people will realistically pay for shopping … which is nothing for a quick stay.

    We now have a transport consultant looking at the issue who will write a report for submission to the cabinet, though not in time for the December decision. It will be in time for a re-think before implementation in April 2011.

    The consequence of charging for spaces in very weak towns is that shoppers will simply not bother paying 40p to park. Most trips into Westbury High Street are for purchases of less than £2.

    For example, anyone just buying a £1 paper will just stop using the High Street and kill off our newsagent by going to the supermarket and minimarkets around the town which have free parking.

    If this nonsense keeps up all the way into 2013, there is going to be a Conservative wipeout at the main elections then.

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