BUSINESSES in Calne raised a glass to their campaign success after two hours free car parking was introduced to the Heritage Quarter car park on Monday.

The group have been campaigning for months to get the trial introduced which, it is hoped, will drag people away from the free supermarket car parks.

The town council’s planning committee agreed to subsidise a six month trial with £3,600 being paid to Wiltshire Council.

Nikki Seal, owner of The Real Paintbox Co, said: “I’m thrilled and I have already had customers who have come into my shop and spent money because they were using the free parking.

“It’s not just about the business it’s about the Heritage Quarter which is the bit with the character which makes it unique.”

Coun Robert MacNaughton added: “It is important we support local businesses, because they are the life blood of the town. We need to encourage more visitors to stay and enjoy what Calne has to offer.”

Malmesbury’s free parking experiment has already scored an early success after new figures show a “significant increase” in short term users at Station Road Car Park.

The pioneering initiative saw a 165 per cent increase in the number of motorists who took advantage of two hours free parking during the first three months.

Some 4,128 one and two hour tickets were issued from August to October following the scheme’s launch compared to 1,555 purchased during the same period in 2014.

The ground-breaking 12-month trial, a collaboration between the Malmesbury Town Council, the Malmesbury Town Team and Wiltshire Council, is a key factor in a masterplan aimed at luring more shoppers and tourists to the town centre.

Town Team spokesman Gordon MacPherson, said "Results after the first three months of the trial are very encouraging. We will continue to promote free parking through promotional material and on Malmesbury’s new web site.”

The town council and town team are jointly subsidised Wiltshire’s parking revenue to the tune of £9,000.

Malmesbury Mayor, John Gundry, said "The early success of this joint town council and town team initiative is very positive news for both Malmesbury residents and visitors.

Coun Simon Killane, added: “Convenient and affordable parking spaces are hugely important to the success of our High Street. This initiative demonstrates a positive example of giving market towns a much bigger say in how they determine their own parking charge rates.”