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Retailers are relying on free parking decision
3:59pm Wednesday 4th December 2013 in Salisbury Letters
AT a time when city centres across the UK are struggling to survive and businesses in central Salisbury are gearing up for the busiest trading period of the year, it is heartening to learn that our local council has made a bold decision to provide free parking on Sundays in the runup to Christmas to encourage Salisbury residents to use local businesses.
Retailers are relying on this business to help recovery from an awful year’s trading that has been made worse by a combination of works on the market square and dissuasive parking charges.
It is clear to anybody running a business in the city that Wiltshire Council has no interest in the long term success of Salisbury as a living, breathing city, but sees it as a cash-cow that can be used to subsidise less successful parts of the county further north.
The fact that Salisbury City Council has been forced to accept the estimated £17,000 cost of supporting local businesses may not be right or just – I agree with those members of the council (and Alan Clarke) that the introduction of free Sunday parking over the Christmas period should be something that Wiltshire Council is enthusiastic to support.
However, the fact is that Wiltshire is not prepared to support business in Salisbury and that “no action” is not an option.
Be under no illusion that without a strong Christmas trading period we will see a number of local businesses putting up the shutters in the new year.
As a city centre independent retailer, working hard to keep Salisbury a place people want to come to, there were two lines in the article (Journal, November 28) that made my blood boil.
First of these was Alan Clarke’s objection to funding being used to “pay for parking for people from outside of Salisbury”.
This is wrong on two counts.
The first being that the majority of Salisbury residents live outside the ring road and will appreciate being able to drive into the city centre to shop and spend time on a Sunday.
The second being that we need people from outside of the city to visit here if the centre is going to survive.
The second is the comment by Cllr Tomes about this being a “knee-jerk, publicity seeking gesture”, again wrong on two counts.
City centre businesses have been asking for help to reduce the “visitor inhibitor” of Sunday parking charges for more than two years and, secondly, where is the publicity?
There has been no communication to local businesses of this measure, which would mean we could plan this into our marketing spend, and I am not aware of any publicity aimed at people outside Salisbury designed to bring them here over the Christmas period.
SIMON WOOD, The Strawberry Fox, Salisbury
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