FREE bank holiday parking could be rolled out across Wiltshire if an amendment to the budget is approved by Wiltshire Council.

Councillor Gavin Grant wants to see free car parking extended from Sunday to bank holidays. He proposes taking £60k from the council’s £12m reserves to cover the lost revenue made from parking machines.

The Malmesbury councillor backed a petition to stop charges from being introduced on Sundays and in November Wiltshire Council announced it would suspend all Sunday parking charges.

However, the budget only allows for one year of free parking and there is a chance that charges could be reintroduced in the future.

Although free parking applies on Christmas Day, he wants to see other bank holidays such as Easter Monday, Good Friday and New Year’s Day given a pass from traffic wardens to boost visitors to town centres.

Cllr Grant said: “The retail and hospitality industries are under so much pressure, they should get their opportunity to trade without restriction. If we don’t make this amendment I think we are sending out the wrong message to all of those businesses and those who are working so hard to promote our town centres.

"his is a modest amendment but I think symbolically it is important we show support.”

However, the amendment attracted criticism from some councillors who questioned how the free parking would be funded in future years without being taken from the reserves pot again.

Cllr Grant agreed to look into the budget to find ways to achieve the saving for future years.Marlborough councillor Stewart Dobson said: “Cllr Grant did say he had looked through the budget and could not find a way to make the saving unless through the reserve. It might not be sustainable.”

Cabinet member for highways Cllr Bridget Wayman said: “£60,000 is a not an insignificant amount. Parking charges fund our bus services which are highly important in this rural county.

We have 20,000 people without a car and 80,000 families with only one car who rely on bus services to get them to work in the town centres. Young people need the buses because they cannot drive or are too young to drive. Bus services are not just for the elderly.”

Councillors are set to debate the amendment proposed during the full council budget meeting on February 26.