SALISBURY City Council has voiced strong concerns about Wiltshire Council’s plans to increase parking charges across the county.

The city council’s Conservative majority wrote to County Hall - after excluding the other parties - and said it was “totally inappropriate” for Wiltshire to link bus subsidies to increased car park charges and residents’ parking permit costs.

In the letter, the city council accepted that car parking charges needed to rise in line with inflation to pay for car park upkeep.

But it said the charges should be harmonised across the county, with payment on exit introduced, ideally using contactless technology. Currently Salisbury has the most expensive parking in Wiltshire.

And the city council attacked the “massive hike” in the cost of residents’ parking permits, which is being proposed to “harmonise charges across Wiltshire”.

It said: “The justification is particularly tendentious given that 3,800 of the 3,875 Wiltshire residents parking permits are issued to Salisbury residents.”

Instead it suggested a 12 per cent increase, in line with inflation, which “should be enforced more effectively”.

The letter added that commuters were “chancing” parking in residential areas because getting one fine a week was cheaper than paying for a week’s parking.

The lack of regular enforcement made this a “favourable statistical gamble” and caused frustration among residents unable to park near their homes, it added.

The city council said cutting the 15 minute grace period before a parking ticket is issued would be “petty and antagonistic”.

It suggested improving Salisbury’s park and ride to boost income, making sure all buses connect with the railway station and adding later services to benefit commuters.

Last week the city council’s Conservative leadership came under fire for deciding to respond to the consultation in private. They voted down a proposed response from the Labour group at a public meeting last Monday.

The city council also supported charging in all Wiltshire Council car parks - some of which are currently free - and the extension of Sunday and bank holiday parking charges across the county.

It opposed the withdrawal of free event parking.

Labour city councillor Tom Corbin said it was a “shameful closed-door response on behalf of the city’s residents.”

He said: “It seems for the Tories, out of the public gaze that they are more than happy to force an immediate 12 per cent increase on parking charges.”