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A PRICE hike by Wiltshire Council on residents’ permits for council-owned car parks in Melksham – with some charges set to rise by a third – has come under fire.
The news has been criticised by mayor, cllr Jon Hubbard, who has accused Wiltshire Council of trying to ‘squeeze every last penny’ from residents already facing financial difficulties.
From 1st February, prices in the Church Street, Lowbourne and King Street car parks are set to increase by a third – a 12 month residents’ permit jumps from £300 to £400; six months’ from £150 to £200; and three months’ from £75 to £100.
Prices in the Bath Road car park are increasing by a quarter – a 12 month residents’ permit jumps from £400 to £500; six months’ from £200 to £250; three months’ from £100 to £125.
And Union Street car park charges are increasing by almost a quarter – a 12 month residents’ permit increases from £450 to £560; six months’ from £225 to £280; and three months’ from £113 to £140.
“At this time of increased financial challenge for so many it’s tragic that Wiltshire Council has decided to compound the problem for people by putting in this inflation-busting increase in car parking charges for people who live in our town,” said cllr Hubbard.
“Wiltshire Council may be busy talking the talk about supporting our high streets but the reality is that they are just trying to squeeze every last penny from hard pressed residents and subsidising their failing finances.
“The council talk about how they are investing in our towns, but the car parks are in an increasingly poor condition, the only electric charging point in the town has not worked in years.”
In response, leader of Wiltshire Council, cllr Richard Clewer, said, “Car parking charges in Wiltshire Council owned car parks will not be increasing in January 2022. The price increases relate to off street residents parking permits.
“The residents off street scheme is an historic arrangement put in place by the former District Councils. In 2010 it was decided by the then Cabinet Member that these schemes should be phased out as part of the forming of the unitary council.
“It is not appropriate to have two duplicate schemes operating in our car parks, with residents permits running alongside season tickets. The majority of our season ticket holders are also residents of Wiltshire and subsidising one user over another cannot continue and therefore rates are being harmonised.
“Resident permit holders are aware that the scheme is being phased out and that the cost of permits will be gradually increased each year to bring them into line with the cost of a season ticket.
“No new applications for off street resident permits have been accepted for the last four years. There are 58 permits still in existence across the four former District Council areas, 15 of which are in Melksham.”