Salisbury free parking post-spy attack 'filled by commuters'

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Image source, PA
Image caption,
Free parking was introduced to support businesses affected by the city centre closures and cordons

Free parking to help businesses after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury is under review after complaints commuters are taking advantage of free spaces.

Wiltshire Council brought in the benefit to tempt shoppers back after the attack on Russian ex-spy Segei Skripal and daughter Yulia on 4 March.

It said footfall in the city had dropped by 15% since the attack and coach party numbers were down 40%.

Officials urged firms to encourage staff to use the park-and-ride service.

Free buses

Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott said: "We've heard that early in the morning all the employees come. Rather than using the park and ride, they now come into the city because it's free. We're going to have to look at that and see how we can manage that.

"We're working with the Chamber of Commerce and the BID (Business Improvement District) to say to businesses, 'please encourage your employees to go on the park and ride' because if not we don't get the churn of shoppers in the city."

Salisbury City Council leader Matthew Dean said: "Free parking is just a piece of the puzzle. There's free buses into the city centre on selected routes. The park and ride is free.

"These are all incentives to welcome people into the city. People watch the television and see the cordon and think it must be very busy and then don't want to go, but it's actually a very tiny part of the total city.

"All the main shopping centres are open - there's only seven businesses that are closed."

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