Chamber drives parking debate forward as residents are urged to have their say
Marlborough Chamber of Commerce has restated its desire to protect free parking in the town’s High Street and urged authorities to introduce free long-term parking for low-paid workers.
Its recommendations come as Wiltshire Council launches a county-wide review of parking charges – the first in four years.
The last review, in 2010, saw parking tariffs increased and the cost of season tickets increased in most car parks in the town, although free 30-minute parking on the sides of High Street were protected.
The consultation - which begins next Monday, October 27 - could see a move away from the current charging for parking based on four bands, to options based on individual car parks or town assessments.
These options will use factors such as usage of car parks and location, as well as looking at the wider economic and environmental issues.
The review will also consider a number of charging options, including first hour free parking, free after 4pm, Sunday charges, or evening charges as tools to enhance local communities’ ability to use their local services.
John Thomson, deputy leader and cabinet member responsible for sustainable transport, said: “This is a wide-ranging review of an issue which is key to the development of our towns and villages.
“We are looking at ways to make it easier for the public to pay for their parking through the use of new technology, such as paying by mobile phone instead of using cash, using websites to pay for parking and automatic number plate recognition.
“Our car parking review is comprehensive and is about much more than just cars, it is about enhancing the local economy, environment and providing value for money in our car parking services.
“We are keen to engage and work with local communities in order to provide them with the most appropriate facilities. I hope as many people as possible will get involved and tell us what they think.”
Marlborough Chamber of Commerce is concerned that some of the towns lowest paid workers - including those in retail and administrative roles - can spend the first hour or more of their working day paying for their parking.
The lack of a free long-term parking solution for the town makes recruitment difficult for employers, and causes headaches for residents as commuters seek out free parking in residential areas, says the business organisation.
In response to the consultation, Alex Minoudis, president of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, said: “Marlborough Chamber has been saying for some years - certainly since the last major consultation four years ago - that consideration needs to be given creating affordable, long-term car parking away from the centre, for the benefit of visitors who want to spend more time in the town, and for workers – generally speaking those on lower wages - who do not benefit from free on-site car parking at their place of employment.
“We must also consider the negative impact that any potential loss of free, short-term parking on the sides of High Street would have on the owners of businesses – especially our independent traders – that benefit from 'drop-in' trade.
“The Chamber has always fought hard to retain an element of free parking as part of the offering to shoppers and visitors to Marlborough High Street, and will continue to do so.”
Meanwhile, the Chamber has been backing a review of parking - including usage, availability and signage - alongside partner organisation Marlborough Town Council, as part of the Town Team initiative.
The consultation will launch in two stages. On Monday, a strategy document and 14 town profiles will be published. The survey and charging summary will be launched on November 10. Residents and organisations will have until January 16 to put their views to the council.
All documentation will be available at http://consult.wiltshire.gov.uk/portal