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

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.

Councillor 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.”

The RAC Foundation revealed earlier this year that parking profits made by Wiltshire Council have shrunk over the past five years.

Last year the council made just under £3.6m profit from parking fees – the 55th highest sum out of the 353 local authorities in England which responded to the foundation - and this figure had fallen each year since 2012/13, when the council made almost £4.7m in profits.

The council said any surplus from its car parks is invested back into vital services and reasons given for a reduction in surplus included a general downturn in the economy, free parking days awarded to town and parish councils and that charges had been frozen for a number of years.