Saturday, 1 August 2015

Malmesbury gets free parking. Is this the future for small towns?

The town of Malmesbury has announced it is the first in Wiltshire to provide free council parking. In a year long trial the council have designated one car park to allow two hours free parking. It is hoped this will boost trade and attract shoppers and tourists. To balance this out, it is expected to cost £9,000 in lost revenue, which will be subsidised by the town council and Malmesbury Town Team. Other nearby towns are watching with interest.

The Prankster decided to mosey on over and try things out.

The town centre, while picturesque, has limited free on-street parking and one nearby pay to park car park. The free car park, while some way away by road, is actually quite close to the centre of town. A two minute walk up some steps and you are there.

There are a selection of cafes in which to wile away half an hour. The Prankster enjoyed a smoothie in the Summer Cafe, but Amanda's was also nearby, as no doubt were others.

The ruins of Malmesbury Abbey can be seen for free, although donations are welcomed. The Prankster missed the skateboard festival, apparently held in the abbey each February; when he visited, thinks looked decidedly churchish.

The Abbey Gardens were extremely beautiful at this time of year, featuring fountains, sculptures, ponds, a river walk and many other sights - they are a must see for anyone visiting Malmesbury.

All too soon the two hours were over and it was time to return to the car. With the money The Prankster spent in the town, Malmesbury Town Team can be happy they are already beginning to recoup their investment.

The Prankster will try and remember to report back in a year to see whether the experiment was a success or failure.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. What happens if you go over the 2 hours Mr P?

    1. You can stay longer, but you have to pay for it. I think its £4.50 all day

  2. Well done Malmesbury! But for an object lesson in sensible parking come to Ely in Cambridgeshire. FREE 2, 4 or 23 hour parking depending on proximity to centre. Only restriction is 90 minutes only when parking between 8 and 8.30 to deter commuters. But commuter parking just £3 a day near station. No time restrictions for disabled. Great shops, market, restaurants, a river, gardens and a pretty impressive churchy thing!! See you soon.

  3. Newport (Gwent) started a similar scheme last year in one of the car parks closest to the City Centre. The city is dying on it's feet, because it is competition with Cwmbran, where all town centre car parking is free and the shopping centre is about 90% under cover. Most of the major stores in Newport are now located on an out of town retail park. The cost of parking is one of the key reasons why the City Centre has become a desert for the majority of major chains. Even the pound stores are closing down.

  4. Excellent! I my town (Aylesbury) has just put it's parking charges up. The shop owners are furious! I think I'll be shopping in nearby Thame that does provide free parking.

  5. One Word: Carmageddon!

    You (and the good people of Malmesbury) have been warned!!!

  6. Sudbury in Suffolk does the same. The car park next to 'Roy's of Wroxham' has 2 hours free parking.

    Halstead in Essex has 2hours free parking in the short-stay car park behind Weaver's Court (this is owned by Halstead Town Council, but is signposted by the Co-Op).

    Both are worth a visit and if PP wishes to head to either of them, I will meet up with him an buy him a pint in recognition of all the work he has put-in dealing with the PPCs. He can contact me via a PM on MSE (I'm Patman99).

  7. not new, Oxted/TandridgeDC have this in place since the year dot. If you want to stay longer you purchase a ticket for the extra time. Surrey County Council hate it and want rid of it having already seconded parking wardens/CEO's from Reigate and Banstead since Tandridge refused to employ them.