THERE have been several comments recently in the Journal about parking in the Market Place.

As part of the consultation process about the Market Place I asked people if they wanted to see it become a pedestrian only zone.

A total of 1,235 people responded to the question, with 61 per cent saying that they agreed that it should and 30.8 per cent saying they disagreed.

The other elements of the consultation (the working group and the area board) came to the same conclusion.

As a result we took parking out of both the Market Place and Guildhall Square. We replaced the disabled parking in New Canal and on roads around the Market Place, almost doubling the number of disabled spaces.

In the market square the view of the working group was very clearly that those attending wanted to see more events put on in the square. The extension of the farmers market, the Italian and French markets and the forthcoming youth market event are examples of just some of what the city council is now doing with the available space.

The question was raised at the working group about potentially allowing parking on the square in the evening. The idea sounded sensible to me but when I investigated it with transport officers it became clear that we would have to spray mark out parking spaces.

Doing that on the new surface did not make sense and the working group and area board both reached a conclusion that evening parking should not be allowed as a result.

There are plans from the city council to look at more evening events as well, the Live at Five on Fridays being an example, which will see the squares being used even more.

I am extremely pleased with the way the square is now looking and, while it has taken too long to complete, the comments from residents about the new Market Place to me are extremely positive. I look forward to seeing it used a great deal more as the weather improves.

Richard Clewer, Wiltshire councillor, Salisbury

AS a member who sits on the market liaison panel, comprising city councillors and market trader representatives, I would like to counter some negative comments about the charter market recently made in these pages.

The overriding message is that far from being a market in decline or in trouble, it is, in actual fact, very healthy and extremely well placed to move forwards and thrive.

The refurbishment of the Market Place undoubtedly had an impact on the charter market, with traders being moved around and doing their best to work through the rebuild, particularly over the Christmas period.

Everyone knew that trading would be affected by the refurbishment work. However, the market has remained robust throughout, due in no small part to the willingness and flexibility of the traders themselves.

In planning for the completion of the refurbishment and a new layout, spaces were made for new traders.

Twenty-one traders have joined the waiting list since September 2013 and have kept in touch with us regularly, waiting patiently for the refurbishment work to finish so they might be able to start trading.

Almost without exception, these traders approached the city council, and we have not had to go out seeking new traders. Additionally, five of our existing traders have taken the opportunity to expand the size of their stalls and two have expanded their lines.

All the existing stallholder expansions have been accommodated. We have introduced four new stalls, and we are negotiating with Wiltshire Council about expanding the market to gain another three spots close to the Market Place.

We aim to fill these spaces during this month. Some of those we cannot currently accommodate in the charter market have joined us at the new monthly farmers’ and artisan market because they fit the specification for that as well.

In addition to all this there is a substantial three-year phased capital investment programme planned, which councillors recently approved, to invest in the general operation of the differing markets.

Cllr DW Brown, St Francis and Stratford Ward

WHAT is happening in Salisbury?

The Market Place was finished six months late. Who’s to blame?

Designers, planners, councillors or contractors? Or all of these?

Elizabeth Gardens was a similar overrun expense with minimal improvements.

It seems ages since the police station was to move but nothing is being built yet.

The cells in courts and the Guildhall are apparently unsuitable for temporary use for a custody suite, while empty county buildings such as Orchard House and old secure units at the Old Manor site are not considered - let’s do a 70-mile round trip instead.

Meanwhile our potholes are not getting fixed. We pay for largely empty park and ride services.

To pay for market and park expenses, and councillors pay rises, we are cutting services for those with learning disabilities and youth services.

Promises years ago to deal with the gap between residents’ parking charges and off-road parking charges didn’t happen. Fines for dangerous cycling, dog fouling etc seem uncollected. Please will councillors look after our council tax better.

Jim Radford, Salisbury

I CAN’T believe what a load of moaning minnies live in our very pleasant area.

I have to say how much I applaud the Salisbury authorities for finding sufficient funds to enhance Salisbury Market Place, something which, I have always believed, was a missed opportunity to make Salisbury more attractive and great to live in.

It is all the more commendable because, in recent years, so many budgets have been cut. Yet there have been so many letters in recent editions of the Journal, moaning about it. There are so many aspects of the Market Placee that could be applauded.

Derek Ayling Godshill n I WONDER who will be brave enough to take over as chairman of the Salisbury Vision Board.

The board’s original plans for the redevelopment of the Market Place were rejected by those people for whom the very idea of change seems threatening.

It is these small-minded people who should be held to account for the featureless, characterless empty space that now sits at the heart of our city.

Perhaps they should form a rival group and call themselves the ‘Salisbury Lack of Vision Board’.

Why was the war memorial not moved to the side of the square backing onto Queen Street, the most sensible and aesthetically pleasing place for it to be, with plenty of space in front of it (rather than behind it) and where it could have been the focal point of parades and Remembrance services?

Why have we still got a row of massive trees far too close to the buildings all the way down the other side of the square, pushing up the paving, causing drainage problems, masking the buildings and depriving them of natural light?

Why have we got public conveniences and bin-bays right at the front of the square as the main, and some would say only, feature of the Market Place?

These blocks are so lacking in imagination and architectural merit, they could have been designed by a ten-year-old using beige Lego bricks.

And why has the charter market lost so much of the atmosphere and character that used to make it well worth at least one visit a week?

I wonder why the market traders are so unhappy.

Unless those with no vision stop resisting and obstructing those with more imagination, this city will never develop into the vibrant and attractive place to visit, work and live in that it could and should be.

I dread to think what lies in store for us if the redevelopment of the central car park and the Maltings is as dull and uninspiring as the expensive, nearly empty space we now have for a Market Place.

I hope that somebody with more imagination will be allowed to intervene before it’s too late.

Ian Kirby, Salisbury