COUNCILLORS in Chippenham will form a united front against the planned hike in car parking charges proposed by Wiltshire Council.

The 25 town councillors agreed at a meeting last Wednesday that they would respond to the report, which proposes to increase car parking charges in Wiltshire by as much as 12 per cent in order to save rural bus services.

A number of business owners and organisations have already spoken out against the plans, which would mean all-day car parking in Bath Road would increase from £7.50 to £8.40.

Councillor Sandie Webb, the leader of Chippenham Town Council, said: “Everyone is of one voice in Chippenham and it is not good enough to say that Wiltshire Council is going to spend the extra money on buses.

“The parking charges are ridiculous at the moment, let alone what they want to raise them to and as I said before, they are going the right way to seeing deserted town centres.

“We will be forming a working party to discuss our response to the consultation on behalf of the people we represent.

“It is frustrating for us as councillors that we cannot do anything other than respond to the consultation.

“We are doing everything we can but ultimately it is a Wiltshire Council decision.”

Despite angering residents and business owners across the county, Wiltshire Council has defended the reasons behind the proposals.

Bridget Wayman, the cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We don’t want to increase parking charges, however the cost of operating car parks is rising, as is the cost of public transport, and without income generated from car parks we could lose many vital bus services.

“We are therefore asking local people and businesses how the extra funding could be found. We really are open to any options and welcome comments and ideas.”