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Council proposes parking charge increase to safeguard bus services

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Wiltshire businesses are being invited to have their say on whether car parking charges should be increased to help safeguard bus services.

The cost of car parking in Wiltshire’s market towns is a contentious issue – especially among retailers and businesses with a physical presence, which rely on their customers being able to easily and affordably reach them.

It’s also an important consideration for commuters – especially lower-paid shop and office workers.

Meanwhile, the county’s bus service provides a vital lifeline for business customers and staff who don’t have access to a car.

Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We don’t want to increase parking charges. However, subsidising public transport is so important in a rural county and without income generated from car parks we could lose many vital bus services.

“We are therefore asking local people and businesses how the extra funding could be found. We really are open to any options and welcome comments and ideas.

“It’s important that we strike the right balance in our towns and city and how they are accessed. We need to focus on improving the environmental impact caused by vehicles, along with the need to cover the cost to provide car parking services.”

A review of parking arrangements in 2014 introduced individual car park charging based upon usage, which saw an overall reduction in charges and meant that the council’s car parking service has remained relatively unchanged since 2011.

However, cost pressures on many council services has resulted in a need to consider a review of current parking charges to ensure that vital services can continue.

The proposals, which will be considered at cabinet on 12 September, also contain investment in a number of technological and operational improvements to improve customer service. These include parking bay sensors, automatic number plate recognition for residents’ parking zones, static cameras outside schools and body worn cameras.

The consultation provides an opportunity for people to feedback their views on the options.

Any surplus revenue generated from car parking is used to help fund essential local bus services.

Following the cabinet meeting on 12 September the consultation will begin later in the month and will last for eight weeks. People can get involved by visiting www.wiltshire.gov.uk