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Is parking really a link to prosperity in city?
11:12am Thursday 4th October 2012 in Postbag
THE letter from Jeanne Rushby (Postbag, September 27) made a plea for parking to continue in the Market Place in order to help Salisbury’s prosperity.
I would like to suggest some reasons why I feel removal of this parking is long overdue.
The key to Salisbury’s prosperity is both its accessibility and its attractiveness.
The quandary we have is that if people drive their cars into Salisbury in large numbers this reduces the attractiveness of the city as a shopping and tourist destination.
No one wants to be walking along roads that are clogged with traffic, or trying to dodge moving cars to cross a shopping street.
The pollution caused by traffic in Salisbury city centre already means that the city is in breach of government guidelines – Minster Street is an example where the canyon effect of the buildings mean nitrogen dioxide levels have been in excess of safe limits for years.
The health risks for those using these polluted streets is one key reason why Wiltshire Council must – by law – take steps to reduce city centre traffic movements.
The needs of those with limited mobility and health issues must, of course, be recognised, which is why a review of disabled parking provision and the allocation of new spaces is forming part of the Market Place re-design.
There are other ways for many Salisbury residents to reach the city centre – whether on foot, by bicycle, on the buses or by taxi – which is just as well as over a quarter of Salisbury’s households don’t even own a car.
Once the Market Place is free of parked cars and being enjoyed as a public open space I think people will wonder – as they did after the High Street became pedestrianised – quite why we put up with the present situation for so long.
MARGARET WILLMOT, Salisbury
IN last week’s Postbag, your correspondent Jeanne Rushby raised important questions about what brings prosperity to Salisbury.
Firstly, she highlights shop closures.
However, Salisbury actually has the lowest proportion of vacant shops of any comparable town in the country - a fact surprising to many, but true. So Salisbury is not in relative decline. We start from a good position on which we want to improve - not least through a successful development in the Maltings.
Secondly, she describes as ‘madness’ the loss of car parking in the Market Place. As most of your readers will know, the debate over the future of the Market Place has been long and contentious.
At long last we have a plan which commands the approval of the majority of Salisbury residents.
The Market Place is about to be rejuvenated as the ‘heart’ of the city, with a full complement of trees, resurfacing, and major improvements to lighting, seating and facilities. Surely it would be ‘madness’ to continue to use it as just another car park?
We are not short of parking spaces overall, and parking charges in the Market Place are higher than in the other city centre car parks.
Current users will pay less using the Central or Brown Street parks, and blue badge holders will have more free parking spaces in Blue Boar Row, Minster Street, Silver Street and New Canal.
Achieving long-term prosperity for Salisbury involves many things besides shops and parking.
But on this particular issue I believe that parking in the Market Place detracts from the appeal of our city centre to residents, shoppers and visitors alike, and for no tangible economic benefit.
JOHN MCGARRY Harnham