Targets for car parking failing
11:51am Friday 22nd February 2013 in Latest News
WILTSHIRE Council has failed to meet its targets on car parking income after it controversially raised charges two years ago.
In the first year of the new fees, 2011/12, the council received parking income of £7.5 million, against an expected £8.9 million.
By the end of March the council is predicting a shortfall on its estimated income of £140,000, despite reducing the price of season tickets by 20 per cent.
Asked if bringing in the reduction on season tickets was an admission that the council’s car parking policy was wrong, council leader Jane Scott said: “No, it’s an admission of trying to help businesses.”
In 2013/14 the Tory-run council is planning to invest an extra £580,000 by subsidising a number of free parking days in towns and to prop up the expected reduction in car parking revenue following the lowering of season tickets.
Car parking charges will not increase in 2013/14.
Cllr Scott said internet shopping and the variety of shops in towns were among the reasons for the decrease in trade.
She said that introducing one- hour free in car parks would cost the council almost £3 million a year.
She said: “I think the question I would ask is where do we get that money from? We are scraping the barrel to keep frontline services going.
“Do you take money from older people’s services, vulnerable people’s services, repairing potholes? I don’t think we do.”
Cllr John Brady, Cabinet member for finance, said the council supported local businesses. It spends about £1 million a year in business rates help, including giving 100 per cent relief to 50 post offices, 65 pubs and 10 filling stations.
Cllr Dick Tonge, Cabinet member for highways, said the shortfall in expected income was due to reducing the price of the first hour in Chippenham and Trowbridge by 10 per cent, decreasing the minimum stay to one hour in Salisbury and an increase in useage at Salisbury Park and Ride.