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Don't blame us for market towns' downfall, say council

(October 12, 2011)
HUNDREDS of thousands of shopping trips to Wiltshire towns have not taken place since the imposition of higher parking charges, a county council report reveals.
The report, prepared for Wiltshire's cabinet meeting under the name of portfolio Holder Dick Tonge, seeks to explain away the reasons why business has drained away from Wiltshire's market towns over the time that has passed since the imposition of the higher charges,
Although firm evidence is hard to go on  they insist it has nothing to do with them.
A deep retail recession, changing shopping habits involving the internet and out-of-town malls and that our town centres have nothing to offer are all to blame, it is insisted.
Even if you accept these arguments -
The massive hikes in charges have brought in just 1.7 per cent more cash month on month. No wonder the chief executive was given the boot.
"I don't accept all their arguments,'' said Steve Dancey, a former county council group leader and ex-chairman of  the council's economic development committee.
''The truth is that the factors they mention are all correct but there is a multiplicity of factors operating against town centres.
''One of these is parking charges but the other in Warminster's case is the removal of on-street parking - we have suffered a double whammy.
''Our town has not recovered since it was dug up by the council for years on end. Shame on them.''
"There is one major benefactor to these car parking charges and the evidence is there to see every day - Morrisons," adds another former councillor Paul Macdonald.
"The car park is packed because it offers what was taken away from the rest of the town. Two hours free parking!
"And as that supermarket sells almost everything that can be found in our smaller shops what chance do they have?"
Paul reveals that he gives Morrisons a miss in favour of supporting smaller stores by first visiting Poundstretcher at Fairfield Road.
"This car park is two hours free and having given then some custom I walk to the shops and cafes that side of town to support them. I urge others to do the same."

*All along we have said that Wiltshire market towns could not take big hikes in charges yet it is the council that is tasked with trying to maintain their vitality!!!
 Quarterly ticket sales have fallen from 1.2 million to just 950,000 in the last quarter. Mr Boden who helped write the report is a good solicitor and advocate but he is no economist.
We would refer him and all others who doubt us to this explanation of price elasticity of demand. Town councillors should also look at it in relation to the Assembly Hall fiasco.

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