In last week's bulletin, we asked you to get in touch if your council was introducing or increasing car parking charges (if you are not registered as a supporter and would like to receive our weekly bulletin, please click here). We got an immediate response from all around the country, with a couple of e-mails from Salisbury in particular catching our attention.
Wiltshire Council decided to dramatically increase parking charges in Salisbury last April. Before then you could park for an hour for £1; since then the minimum period has increased to two hours and prices have gone up by 10%. The cost of all day parking has also increased.
As a direct result of these increases, local businesses have been suffering a slump in trade. One local shop owner, Theresa Wood, has seen business fall by 90% since the price hike. She said:
"We were doing really rather well, but trade went 30 per cent down immediately, and it’s just carried on getting steadily worse as we lose our customer base."
In another example, a local professional photographer had a meeting at 5:30 pm. Although it is free to park after 6:00 pm, he still had to pay £2.20 to cover half an hour. He said he is moving his businesses to another town "because there are no parking charges there, so people can come and see me in my office and it won’t cost them any money."
All of this has promoted local people to rise up against the new charges and a campaign has been organised by the Salisbury Journal - the Show Some Sense Campaign, who are calling for a reintroduction of one-hour parking and for all-day parking to be reduced to £6. The campaign has already attracted 7000 signatures on a petition, however whether this success translates into action remains to be seen.
Although the council leader has admitted 'we let the city down', the best residents can hope for is a lengthy review, which will no doubt cost many thousands of pounds. Although the council realises it has made a mistake, it still seems incapable of doing the right thing and simply reducing the charges. In its misguided attempts to raise extra cash, it is strangling the businesses it is supposed to be serving and driving visitors and customers away.
There is also a sting in the tale of this story. Parking wardens have been told to work an extra three hours a day in order to clampdown on those who are illegally parking. No doubt these are the same people who object to paying £2.20 to park their car irrespective of whether they are there for 20 minutes or two hours. It's no suprise local businesses are wondering whether the council is deliberately trying to push them into bankruptcy.
Once again we have a council who, instead of serving people, expects people to serve them. Our message to Wiltshire Council is the same as that of the Salisbury Journal - SHOW SOME SENSE!