Chippenham Chamber of Commerce urges Wiltshire Council to reconsider reintroducing parking charges.

Last week it was announced that Wiltshire Council would reintroduce parking charges across the county as of June 1.

However, these plans have been criticised the chamber of commerce for Chippenham has raised concerns over the impact this will have on local business recovery.

In an letter to Cllr Bridget Wayman, cabinet member of highways, transport and waste Kathryn Crosweller, president of the Chippenham Chamber of Commerce said: “I appreciate that Wiltshire Council is facing a significant funding gap from the loss of revenue it has suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but Chippenham Chamber is very concerned by the impact the reintroduction of parking charges will have on the recovery of local businesses.

“In a recent survey produced and shared by Chippenham Chamber, 27 per cent of businesses who responded said they are concerned their business will not recover from the impact of the lockdown.

“We would ask that Wiltshire Council prioritises support for businesses to safeguard jobs and for the longer-term economic recovery of the town.

“If there will be queuing to enter shops then it is more efficient for customers to visit one shop than to visit several shops in a town centre due to the time spent queuing.”

She went on to say that if residents needed to queue to get into the town centre, and pay more for parking due to longer waits to get into shops, then the town centre will become ‘an unattractive prospect’.

Kathryn Croswller added: “For many businesses reopening must be worth their while, and this relies on a good amount of footfall and spend.

“For lone workers and micro businesses, paying staff to enforce social distancing means the cost of reopening may be prohibitive.

“Anything that can be done to encourage people into town is going to help make reopening more viable, and free parking certainly meets this objective as was seen by Wiltshire Council’s free parking offer in Salisbury following the nerve agent attack.

“The cost of car parking is often compared to the value of the offer a visitor experiences when they arrive at their destination.

“Until the full range of businesses has reopened, including leisure and hospitality businesses, it is possible to say that the cost of car parking should be reduced in line with the reduced offer available to consumers.

“I understand it may not be possible to reduce the cost of car parking for logistical reasons, so would again urge Wiltshire Council to reconsider its decision to reintroduce car parking charges.”