Chamber response to parking increase

Dear Cllr Wayman

We write with regards to Amendments to the Wiltshire Local Transport Plan (LTP) 2011 - 2026 - Car Parking Strategy that Wiltshire Council proposes to implement, specifically in relation to proposed parking charge increases.

As a group of local business people, we strongly believe our voice should be heard. We represent the absolute financial heart of our community and speak for our clients and customers as well as ourselves.

The author of this letter has worked and lived in the town all his life and remembers when you were lucky to find a parking space at either Church Street or Lovemead car parks. Those days are long gone as occupancy of ALL our the Town car parks hovers at a derisory approx 12.9%. 

Despite this inarguable truth, provable falling costs and profitable returns (even with a flabbergastingly low occupancy) a questionable methodology has been employed to result in the Council deeming it appropriate to increase charges. And inevitably decrease usage still further?!

As business people working in the community, with a finger on the pulse of society and one foot firmly placed in the real world we employ and serve ordinary people, like ourselves. 

Our staff and customers who also work in town are forced out of our town car parks and into nearby unrestricted residential streets to park for the working day. Simply because the cost of a days parking is cripplingly expensive on average pay for most people. 

It is something of an irony that the people getting to vote on this matter don’t have to worry about parking themselves.

We propose instead that the Council should in fact vote to REDUCE car parking charges in ALL of the town car parks, specifically to encourage all day use for working people (and thus unlock our residential streets to the attractive; often tree lined roads they are when not congested with parking charge “dodgers”) and introduce more affordable and useful time increments to facilitate and encourage short term parking as well.

A couple of interesting observations.

Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Tesco car parks are probably operating at 98% capacity during the “working” day. It would be naive to think all the cars belong to shoppers at each store. These car parks are FREE for a couple of hours and are a saving grace to our other local businesses. We should be supported by our council, not cap in hand to our supermarkets.

The author lives and works close to one of the most convenient yet underused of our car parks: Broad Street. Interestingly, on a Saturday night through all day Sunday (when it’s free!), it can show 75% or greater occupancy.

We are pragmatic business people, well versed in balancing the books, we also know the commercial world inside out. These car parks are commercial assets of our town, owned by a Body charged with representing our town and indeed Counties best interests. Empty public owned car parks do nothing to promote a vibrant, successful commercial district, they force parking into residential streets and they discourage commercial investment (“where are all my customers if the car parks are empty.” asks the entrepreneur looking for a new town to invest in?). They also reduce revenue into Council coffers which is the polar opposite of the reasoning behind these ill thought out proposals.

We urge you to embark on a complete and thorough review of the proposals starting with the relatively simple and blindingly obvious decision to actually reduce charges and actively promote this to the public so there is a measurable uptake in usage, increased profitability and huge public favour gained.

We look forward to a considered response.

Mark Ledbury
For and on behalf of Trowbridge Chamber



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