A MAJOR climbdown over parking charges was announced by Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott on Tuesday.

She promised to get rid of the two-hour minimum and bring back the one-hour charge.

But she stressed at a Cabinet meeting in Trowbridge that this was the only charging change the council could introduce before next spring to relieve the burden of the ‘parking tax’ on shoppers and traders. And it could still take 20 weeks or more, for legal reasons Cllr Scott will meet representatives of business groups, the City Council and the Journal within a week or two to thrash out what the new one-hour and two-hour charges should be and how the council should pay for them.

She said: “We realise now that a two-hour minimum is not what’s wanted. That’s the big issue. So we want to come to the city and give you some options and let you see the costs. We will sit round the table and come up with an agreed position.”

There will be an extraordinary meeting of the Salisbury area board beforehand, on Thursday August 4, open to anyone who wants to have a say on what happens next.

The meeting, at South Wilts Grammar School, will start at 7pm and will be attended by Wiltshire’s deputy leader John Thomson.

Board chairman Richard Clewer said: “It’s everyone’s chance to say what they think and we will come up with a recommendation.”

City Centre Management, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Chamber of Trade and City Council will all receive papers by tomorrow (Friday) on which to consult their members.

CCM’s Graham Gould said he welcomed the opportunity “with open arms” but added: “The problem’s not just the loss of one-hour parking, it’s about the cost of parking for longer periods in Salisbury, too, compared with our retail competitors. And it’s still going to take 20 weeks to get action.”