Free parking in Salisbury is changing

Parking - Central car park Salisbury - May 2018 (Mike Draper)

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 12:02am 8th May 2018. (Updated at 9:34am 8th May 2018)

Limitations are being imposed on the 'completely free parking' in the city for the first time since it started, following the Salisbury spy poisoning.

  • Wiltshire council car parks will be free after 12pm from Monday 14th May and free on the weekend.

  • Old George Mall reintroducing full tariffs 

  • Park and ride remaining free to use

The 'totally free parking' in Salisbury is changing, and very soon. It follows feedback from local shops and businesses.

As of Monday May 14th all the Wiltshire Council run car parks will only be free AFTER midday Monday to Friday, and free all day on Saturday and Sunday.

All 5 of the Park and Ride sites around the city will remain free all day, every day.

A parking meter in Salisbury central car park is covered over whilst free parking is in force. Restrictions on free parking are being introduced from May 14th 2018
Restrictions on 'free' parking in Salisbury are set to be introduced from May 14th


From May 14th, parking in Wilts Council car park in Salisbury will be:

  • Free from MIDDAY on weekdays (Mon - Fri)
  • Free at weekends (Sat - Sun)
  • P&R bus service remains free


Wiltshire Council have decided to 'move the goalposts' on the free parking as a result of fresh discussions will local shopkeepers and businesses.

From what's been said, it had become clear that instead of the free parking helping to bring more 'shoppers' into Salisbury, the spaces were simply being filled-up with an increased number of commuters who'd see it as a golden opportunity to drive and park close to work.

Central car park packed with cars as commuters filled 'free' parking spaces leaving little room for shoppers and visitors
'Commuters' filled 'free' parking spaces in Salisbury leaving little room for shoppers and visitors

A spokesperson at Wiltshire Council told Spire FM News:

"Feedback from local businesses told us all the spaces were being taken up by commuters, and the free parking was not being used by visitors coming to use the shops and attractions in Salisbury."

"This was not really helping the downturn in footfall with shoppers."

"We wanted to make sure the 'free parking' is having the best impact for local businesses. That's why we've decided, with effect from May 14th, that drivers will have to pay the normal weekday parking charges up to Midday. For anyone parking after Midday, it will be free."


The leader of Wiltshire Council, Jane Scott, has been speaking to Spire FM about the changes, and why they've been brought in:

Wraps will come off the meters on May 14th when free parking will only apply after midday Mon-Fri and at weekends
Wraps will come off the meters on May 14th when 'free' parking in Salisbury will only apply after midday on weekdays (Mon-Fri) and all day Saturday and Sunday


This new restriction is the first to come into force since March 24th, when the blanket 'free' parking across Salisbury was introduced.

For almost 2 months now, commuters, shoppers, and visitors driving into Salisbury have enjoyed unrivaled freedom to park for nothing in the Wiltshire Council run car parks. Parking charges have been suspended now for more than 7 weeks amid the huge investigation into the nerve agent attack on the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city centre.

After that incident, which happened at the beginning of March, local businesses reported a huge downturn in footfall because of Police cordons and disruption caused. The centre of Salisbury had been described by some as a 'ghost town'. The free parking had been brought in to try and help.

Wiltshire Council's aim was to try and encourage those people who'd stayed away from Salisbury as a result of the 'Skripal' poisoning incident to come back and visit the city to shop, dine and support Salisbury.

Standard 'full parking charges' in Salisbury aren't anticipated any time soon, and according to Wiltshire Council, they aren't even 'on the table for discussion' at the moment.

Free P&R - Commuters are being encouraged to use Salisbury's Park and Ride service. A park and ride bus collects passengers at the Britford P&R site
Free P&R - Commuters encouraged to use Salisbury's Park and Ride service


The Wiltshire Council' spokesperson also told Spire FM News:

"We are trying to encourage all those commuters, who've been parking for free in the city centre all day, to now use Salisbury's Park and Ride bus service, which remains completely free of charge."

"Please remember! With parking charges resuming in the mornings from May 14th, what we don't want is motorists getting penalty notices because they think it's still free all day. We'll do what we can to make sure it's clear, and we'll be putting signs up at all the Wiltshire Council run car parks."


Jon Osgood, Manager at Salisbury's Old George Mall shopping centre has told Spire FM News:

"Whilst the introduction of free car parking was a huge bonus for the city, and the Old George Mall fully supported the council’s decision, it has been the cause of some frustration to our shoppers and tourists that they have been unable to secure a parking bay due to spaces being occupied by commuters and people working in the city centre.

“We feel that the re-introduction of our full tariffs will allow spaces to become available for shoppers and tourists to take advantage of Salisbury’s retailers, pubs and restaurants and the many tourist attractions we have to offer. 

“This is particularly important in the summer season and will further help the recovery of Salisbury as a destination of choice. We look forward to welcoming many more locals and visitors to the centre and our fantastic city.”


The decision to change the parking charges has been 'supported' by Salisbury BID.

They've released a statement from Chief Executive, Robin McGowan:

“Our members have expressed their concerns that the car parks are being filled with workers by 9.00am and have very little churn throughout the day, which we fed back to the Strategic Recovery Group.

“The new changes, which includes free parking after 12.00pm noon and all-day at the weekend, aims to reduce the number of workers using the car parks which will enable more visitors and shoppers into the city.”

The BID has also backed the calls for workers to take advantage of the free Park and Ride service, as they will remain free when the changes come into force.

They've also called for Wiltshire Council to consult with them before any changes for long-term parking arrangements are made.

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