TOWN home owners are being ‘held hostage’ over increased car parking permit charges, says Councillor Gordon King.

Speaking during Westbury’s full town council meeting, Cllr King said that the recent hike in permit prices in Westbury is unfair for those who live in town and have no option but to use pay and display car parks.

Season tickets in the car park in Warminster Road, Westbury have increased from £26 a month to £45 a month, a 65 per cent increase.

He said: “These increases are unjust in nature for what is a hostage population of people in town houses.

“A 65 per cent increase in charges at a time when personal budgets are either decreasing (owing to inflation), are stagnant or rising slowly.

"This will mean that many will find these sharp increases difficult to pay, forcing them to make different choices such as parking along residential roads, adding to the on-street parking chaos in the town or going without to pay the increase.

"Both are unfair, inequitable and unacceptable.

“Wiltshire Council did not really listen whilst residents warned of the potential for real hardship that these changes would cause.

"Their focus remained entirely on equalising the discount and saving money rather than supporting hard-pressed residents. Wiltshire Council should rethink this policy.”

Wiltshire Council brought in the parking increases in November, following a consultation on car parks in 2017 to raise extra cash to subsidise bus routes.

As well as raising hourly rates and permit costs, Sunday and bank holiday charges were introduced but scrapped by the council following public backlash.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We don’t want to increase parking charges, however, they have not increased since 2011 and the cost of operating car parks and public transport is rising.

"Along with the increasing demand on our budget, we have increased parking charges to mitigate some service reductions.

"It is vital we strike the right balance between covering the increasing costs and supporting local communities. I believe this decision, while extremely difficult, will provide the best result when viewed across all of the services we deliver.”