BUSINESSES in Trowbridge have urged Wiltshire Council to rethink its decision to hike up parking charges, saying it will hurt, and not help, their cause.

At the Trowbridge Chamber’s Annual General Meeting, members said the authority’s decision to increase parking charges at the Lovemead, Broad Street, Broad Street Crescent and Bradford Road car parks, among many others across Wiltshire, will drive away business.

Chamber members, who were furious over the 12 per cent increase, are now in contact with Wiltshire Council about their ideas over the need for free short-term parking near shops, not restricting access of cars to the town centre.

Former Chamber chairman, Robert Quarterly, said: “It is so important to not restrict access of cars to the town centre. We need free short-term parking that is close to the shops.

“Ultimately, this decision hurts businesses. There needs to be a change in strategy. I would do away with many yellow lines to get people into the town. We are not Bath, Bristol or London, we cannot afford for people to park outside the centre. I don’t think Wiltshire Council will make a profit from this anyway.”

Edward Kirk, owner of schoolwear shop Scholars, said: “If you have something that does not sell at a price you are hardly going to sell more by increasing the price. Wiltshire Council understands the importance of free parking, as demonstrated in Salisbury, but not here.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We are pleased to work with local communities on the provision of specialised parking arrangements. Communities such as Westbury and Calne through their town councils fund various free parking schemes and we would be pleased to work with any local community on the introduction of a locally funded arrangement. It is important that the local community make the decision on subsidised schemes, as they seek to attract shoppers.” from other local areas.”

Dan Barber, of Spectrum Marketing Solutions, said: “I am predominantly an online business but I can understand the grievances that businesses have with this. We want people to come into the town and that may stop this happening.”