Wiltshire Council's tinkering with parking charges will do nothing to aid fading town centres(November 11, 2014)
WILTSHIRE Council's proposed changes to parking charges show those in charge of policy in this area have little feeling for the county's market towns - and no grasp of basic economics.
In the Warminster context there are some welcome reductions which will see the three hour charge in the western car park sliced from £2 to £1.50.
Councillor Steve Dancey, who was one of the first to complain when the Liberal Democrats brought in charges in West Wilts in the 1990s, says the on-going collapse of the High Street shopping model in the face of internet competition means that charges need to be abolished if our town centres are to survive.
He said: "Once gone our shops will be gone forever and an important part of life will never return.
"I think a greedy council is making these changes in an attempt to maximise income but they don't understand or care about market towns.
"This is particularly true of Warminster which, unlike many other communities, still has a lot of town centre supermarket parking, which is free for two hours.
"There is also the free parking behind Iceland and at the library.
"The choice available in the town means that shoppers will still shun the charged car parks even when prices are reduced as a free alternative is open to them.
"The major impact is on term parkers and workers who need to park all day and these individuals are content to clog residential streets such as Manor Gardens, Newport, Boreham Road and Ridgeway Court, inconveniencing locals. Many of these workers are on low wages and can't pay £5 a day.
"The truth is that the Wiltshire Council parking charges make very little money and just cause headaches for people.
"The unpalatable fact the council cannot bear to swallow is that demand for car parking is inelastic in Warminster because of its special factors. If you were to halve the charges you wouldn't see much of an increase in useage.
"Unfortunately WC has a charge mindset and cannot allow us free parking here as other towns will demand the same.
"However I don't think they receive much net income in Warminster once the cost of collecting and administering their misguided charging system is taking into account.
"This fact will lead to the passing on of responsibility to the town council (the emerging UDC)."