CONSULTATION on parking charge rises will begin by the end of the month and could come into force before Christmas after Wiltshire Council's cabinet decided on Tuesday to ask people their views on seven options.

Parking wardens will also be issued with body cameras in a bid to cut down on abuse.

But there was worry from some councillors that a rise in charges would push more people to park on residential streets and result in less rather than more revenue for the council.

Ruth Hopkinson, who represents Corsham, said she was astounded by the option to increase charges which had been announced hard on the heals of plans to try and regenerate Wiltshire towns.

She said: "For us to have viable and leisure outlets it is vital to have adequate parking especially in Corsham where there is little or no public transport."

Option one of the plan is to increase parking charges and a list of proposals prepared for the meeting showed the average rise would be around 12 per cent.

In a report to the cabinet Parvis Khansari, associate director for highways and transport, says: "Following the public consultation, it is proposed that, subject to the responses received, option one, would be implemented over an eight to 12 week period.

"For the remaining options, the results of the public consultation would be presented to a future cabinet meeting ahead of anything being agreed."

Options in addition to car park rises include: introducing Sunday and bank/public holiday charging at all car parks; charging in all Wiltshire Council car parks; discontinuing free event parking in November and December; basing season ticket charges on the standard rate charges; harmonising residents’ parking permit charges and cutting the parking grace period to 10 minutes.

Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We don’t want to increase parking charges, however subsidising public transport is so important in a rural county, and without income generated from car parks we could lose many vital bus services."

The parking proposals considered also contained investment in a number of technological and operational changes These include parking bay sensors, automatic number plate recognition for residents’ parking zones and static cameras outside schools.