PARKING charges in Wiltshire will rise by 12 per cent from February 1, it was confirmed today.

Wiltshire Council says almost two thirds of the 1,400 people who responded to a public consultation on the changes supported the increase.

They were faced with a choice between the inflationary rise and the council cutting more subsidised bus routes or other "vital" public services.

The precise question in the consultation was: Would you support:

a) an inflationary increase to current pay and display parking charges; or

b) support a reduction in the equivalent funding of public transport and other vital services

People could also give their own alternative suggestions of how the council could raise a similar amount of money.

The council says the increase will fund investment in automatic number-plate recognition for residents’ parking zones, static cameras outside schools to improve safety and body-worn cameras for traffic wardens.

Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We don’t want to increase parking charges, however they have not increased since 2011 and the cost of operating car parks and public transport is rising.

"Along with the increasing demand on our budget, we have increased parking charges to mitigate some service reductions.

“It is vital we strike the right balance between covering the increasing costs and supporting local communities.

"I believe this decision, while extremely difficult, will provide the best result when viewed across all of the services we deliver.”

A counter-proposal from business leaders in the city, including Salisbury BID and the Chamber of Commerce, was rejected.

Chamber chairman Andy Rhind-Tutt said: "We collectively put a lot of effort into this and and when we saw the response just before Christmas I was really angry."

Salisbury City Council leader Matthew Dean said he had supported the BID's proposals and was disappointed with the decision.

He said: "I had hoped for a smaller set of increases."

He said occupancy rates in Salisbury car parks were up year-on-year, bucking the downward national trend, adding: "but that doesn't make it any more palatable."

Cllr Dean said Wiltshire Council would now freeze parking charges for the next four years.

A Journal survey of independent traders in Salisbury showed almost total opposition to increased parking charges.

A decision on six further options, listed below, is due to be made on January 30 and will be subject to further consultation, if approved.

Option 2 - Introduce Sunday and Bank / Public Holiday charging at all car parks

Option 3 - Charge in all Wiltshire Council car parks

Option 4 - Move the free event parking offer in November and December to other times of the year

Option 5 - Base season ticket prices on the standard rate charges

Option 6 - Harmonise resident's parking permit charges

Option 7 - Reduce the period of time or parking grace from 15 minutes to 10 minutes in all car parks