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Parking u-turns: A good start, but more needed

October 19, 2011 4:52 PM

Following the announcements at Tuesday's cabinet meeting of Wiltshire Council, Liberal Democrats have welcomed the new parking concessions from the Conservative controlled council, following the massive hike in parking charges earlier in the year.

The latest u-turns from the Conservative Council will see a free hour's parking during Christmas week, an extension of the £50 'service permit' scheme and standardisation of the blue badge scheme across Wiltshire.

However, as yet the ruling Conservative administration have given no clues as to how they intend to deal with the collapse in trade in Wiltshire's town centres following the massive hike in parking fees earlier this year, instead issuing a report claiming that it is all a result of the economic downturn and traders not adapting to the situation.

Jon Hubbard (Lib Dem Council Group Leader and Cllr for Melksham South) said"This shows just how out-of-touch the Conservatives in Wiltshire are. They are ignoring all of the evidence and blaming anyone except themselves.

"We all recognise that the economic situation nationally is having an impact on the amount of money people are spending, and that is why our local council should be doing everything in its power to support our retail industry, and not put its efforts into banging the final few nails in the coffins that were our High Streets.

"Even the Conservative Cabinet Member for Finance John Brady described the situation as a 'fiasco' during Tuesday's cabinet meeting. Now is the time to support our traders and help keeps these shops, and the jobs they bring, in Wiltshire's towns."

Brian Dalton (Lib Dem Council Deputy Group Leader and Cllr for Salisbury Harnham)said "The Conservatives have not just ignored the reality of what's going on in our market towns. They've chosen to shift the blame squarely onto the shoulders of local traders. The reality is the economic downturn across the country has been compounded by these senseless car-parking hikes, which have seen income fall for the Council as well as for town centre shops.