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Thousands have their say as parking consultation ends

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Almost 5,000 residents and businesses have had their say on Wiltshire Council’s parking review, which came to an end on Monday 19th January.

Wiltshire Council started the comprehensive public consultation in October last year to hear people’s views on its car parking policy.

The council is committed to reviewing the policy every four years, and the responses will now be analysed to help council leaders decide its future.

John Thomson, cabinet member for sustainable transport said, “I’d like to thank everyone for taking the time to respond to our consultation. We’ve had some really positive collaborative consultation meetings about this and the feedback received will go a long way in helping us decide our policy for car parking. There are many factors to consider going forward, including the local economy, providing value for money for residents and our services, and taking environmental issues into account. It’s a tough balance to achieve but we’re going to make every effort to put a strategy in place that reflects local circumstances.”

The outcome of the review could see a move away from the current charging for parking based on four bands, to options based on individual car parks or town assessments. These options use factors such as usage of car parks and location, as well as looking at the wider economic and environmental issues. This approach gives the council greater ability to manage car parking demand and supply.

Recommendations will be put forward for the council’s cabinet to consider at a future meeting.

Campaign for free parking

Parking charges in the town have been blamed by some for the closure of businesses in Melksham and led to several calls for free parking to be re-introduced.

The consultation by Wiltshire Council included a one-hour free parking trial in Westbury with the success of that determining what happens in other towns of a similar size, including Melksham.

The review will give local people the chance to have their say and could result in a move away from the current charging system for parking based on four bands across the county, to options based on individual car parks or town assessments.

A number of charging options will be considered including first hour free parking, free after 4pm, Sunday charges, or evening charges.

Melksham Town Councillor Pat Aves believes an hour’s free parking would benefit the town but fears charges may actually be increased. She said, “I’m sure it would help to have the first hour free. I know I would be more inclined to pop into town for the odd item instead of putting it off, or going to a supermarket.

“My guess is that charges are likely to be increased, though, in which case I would really like to see the main car park, which is owned by Wiltshire Council, re-designed and given a proper makeover. Parts of it badly need repairing and it really isn’t a very safe layout for pedestrians.”