A NEW agreement to create a mixture of paid-for parking and community space in Devizes Market Place has finally been thrashed out.

The town council and Wiltshire Council have agreed that the freehold of the Market Place will be taken over by the town on April 1. Under the deal no money will change hands but Wiltshire Council will operate parking machines with charges of 70p for one hour and £1.30 for two hours.

Parking spaces will cover at least half the land while the rest will be used for markets and events. Free parking will be available in the evening and on Sundays.

Town councillors voted last Thursday to agree the proposal and Devizes Area Board was given a presentation on the details on Monday.

Town clerk Simon Fisher said: "The changes will not take place immediately. The next stage will be to set up focus groups to discuss exactly how the space will be used and we will then go out to wider consultation. Under this agreement the town council will be able to use the whole of the space for events when we need to. It will mean things such as the Confetti Battle will be safeguarded."

Cllr Kelvin Nash, who has led the negotiations with Wiltshire Council, said it might still be possible to create more free on-street parking to compensate for losing the Market Place free spaces but this would be part of the consultation.

Iain Wallis from the Federation of Small Businesses, who has a shop in Sidmouth Street, said: "Whilst I am pleased that the town council have finally listened to the community about retaining the flexibility the market place offers.

"It is now vital to rebuild that trust and giving members of the public a real role in the consultation process."

He also believed that many people in Devizes favoured keeping free 30 minute parking in the Market Place and would would prefer to pay an increase in their council tax to cover the cost.

He said: “Whilst I think there is still some way to go before we can consider this battle won I do think that the current progress is almost entirely down to the phenomenal engagement and support from members of the public."