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A CALL for one hour free parking in Melksham and across Wiltshire has been backed by a petition signed by over 1,000 people.
The petition was launched by MP Duncan Hames and has gained widespread support particularly in Melksham, with many feeling it is needed to give the town a boost.
The introduction of parking charges in Melksham was blamed as a major factor in several businesses closing including Lovejoys fruit and vegetable store which closed after decades trading saying car parking charges had significantly affected their business.
Many feel that the introduction of free parking would increase footfall and give more businesses a chance of succeeding. Melksham North town councillor Pat Aves said, “There is nothing I would like better for Melksham than the return of one hour free parking. The cost would be minimal but everyone would benefit.”
Paul Carter, councillor for Melksham Without Parish Council also agreed. He said, “Every effort should be made to make shopping easier, from public transport to car parking charges and pedestrianisation. Just look at Chippenham where you can walk round at ease with no cars. Melksham is slightly different where you have to drive into town for a central car park. However, with three car parks around the town within walking distance of the shops, I propose the outside car parks have two hours’ free parking to allow for all your shopping.”
Shoppers in Melksham also agreed. Joe Hargreaves said, “I am normally put off coming into the town partly because of the charges and I am only here today as I have to buy a present from the Toy Shop and don’t have time to go elsewhere.
“One hour free parking would be great for shoppers and businesses and could only be a good thing for the town.”
Speaking about the petition MP Duncan Hames said, “Wiltshire Liberal Democrat councillors and I have been calling on Wiltshire Council to put the interests of our town centre shops first. As part of that campaign we have been pushing the Conservative administration to restore one hour of free parking in council car parks across Wiltshire.
“We hope to collect as many signatures as possible on the petition and the campaign is running to demonstrate to the Conservative administration that local people clearly feel the current parking charge regime to be unfair and damaging to our town centres. With your support we believe we can force them to listen and reintroduce the one hour of free parking across Wiltshire Council’s car parks.”
Over the summer Duncan Hames and supporters have been gathering support for the petition.
The campaign has established an online petition at www.WiltshireFreeParking.org. Anyone can sign the petition by visiting the website and signing it online or downloading a petition sheet from the site.
Pictured: MP Duncan Hames and Melksham Town councillor Pat Aves at Church Street car park