SOUTH Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison has joined a fight to keep free parking in any replacement for Trowbridge’s multi-storey car park.

Wiltshire Council has submitted a £23 million Future High Streets Fund bid which could see the car park being demolished to make way for the redevelopment of Castle Place shopping centre, the Market Hall, and Trowbridge Leisure Centre, if the bid is approved.

The multi-storey has a covenant attached to it which means residents can’t be charged for using it while they are visiting the town centre for shopping, business or leisure purposes.

Now two Trowbridge town councillors, Antonio Piazza and Edward Kirk, have launched a petition, which already has more than 550 signatures, to keep free parking for local residents.

Local MP Dr Andrew Murrison is supporting the two Tory councillors who raised the petition to retain the free parking for which the late Cllr Graham Payne fought hard to keep.

Dr Murrison said: “You can’t just wish cars away without plans for a credible alternative for bringing people into town.

“The multi-storey may well be ugly but it is key to the viability of Trowbridge retail business.

“A reality check is needed if any bid for rejuvenation funding - which I would very much like to support - is to have widespread appeal.”

Wiltshire Council says that reports that Trowbridge is set to lose free parking in the multi-storey car park as a result of the bid for government funding from the Future High Streets Fund are somewhat premature.

The council has bid for £23m from the government to help reinvigorate Trowbridge town centre with a range of projects to attract visitors and businesses in to the heart of the city and town.

However, funding has yet to be secured and if and when it is, any plans would be subject to full engagement and consultation before they went ahead.

Cllr Richard Clewer, deputy leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “At present, we’re in the early days of developing the scheme, so it is not correct to say that the town will lose free parking spaces as the result of the bid being submitted.

"We’re looking at a number of possibilities that could help to transform Trowbridge town centre and could secure the funding.

“Part of this is exploring options for redevelopment at Castle Place, but the criteria to gain funding is largely based on the ability to show increased visits to the town centre, rather than reducing it, and parking is part of that.

“If the bid is successful, this would represent more than £23m of investment into Trowbridge, which we think is a positive thing.

“However, none of the possible improvements will be delivered if we don’t secure funding.

"If we are successful in securing funding, there will be extensive public and stakeholder consultation on any schemes, which will include looking at parking needs in the town, alongside other considerations such as viability, sustainability, visitor numbers and conservation.”

The fund is designed to respond to twin threats to town centres of online shopping and out of town shopping, and Wiltshire Council has submitted bids for Trowbridge and Salisbury.

The multi-storey car park was built in 1974 to provide 475 spaces. In recent years, there have been numerous complaints about its smelly stairwells and narrow parking bays.

Cllr Piazza said: “The covenant was put in place for the people of Trowbridge and to boost trade in the town centre.

"Now certain councillors wish to remove the covenant onthe multi-storey car park, which gives free parking to all.

"Cllr Graham Payne fought endlessly to keep this car park free for Trowbridge’s residents, and now I will too.”

To sign the petition, go to