If Devizes to Westminster Race is Under Threat from Parking Fees, What About Other Events?

Hats tipped to Geoff of our beloved Gazelle & Herod, reporting on a looming row between Devizes Town Council and Wiltshire Council over changes to free car parking which could pose a threat to the historic Devizes to Westminster canoe race. Yet I ask, where will this end, what about the county’s numerous other events, and why should one be singled out?

I’ve no issue drawing your attention to his article, even if they refuse to do likewise when making a front-page splash on a story we broke, and mentions any and everyone else except Devizine, including, for some completely baffling and inconsequential logic, the Queen! She wasn’t there rescuing swans, guys, you read it here first. She was more likely at her palace licking her lips!

Anyway, I digress; it points out, the historic Devizes to Westminster canoe race has been running since 1948, but now, following Wiltshire Council’s decision to end the town council’s provision of free parking for events, organisers of the canoe race could face a bill of £2,300 to cover the cost of the parking spaces that they need to stage the event.

The article goes on to explain Devizes councillors are to meet to decide whether the town council should provide emergency funding to pay for the parking spaces itself. Furious, it states, with one saying that Wiltshire Council gave “no thought at all” to the consequences for events posed by the change in free parking.

It is, sadly a tragic scraping of the public’s piggy-bank, either way the organisers of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race have to pay, or we all do should Devizes Town Council foot the bill. Yet, is taking from “emergency funding,” really justifiable, I mean, does paying for parking on any special occasion really constitute an emergency? And where would it end, what about our other special occasions?

Likely a cascade will ensue, and rightly so if you single out one event and pay for everyone to park. What about carnival, street festival, Lantern Festival, Arts Festival, Beer Festival, Food & Drink Festival, Full-Tone Festival? The list goes on, and goes beyond Devizes; what about Pewsey Carnival, Marlborough Mop Fair, The Basil Brush Family Show comes to Swindon Arts Centre on April 2nd, you can’t expect me to fork out parking fees for that, Wiltshire Council, surely?!

Oh no, that one is out of your jurisdiction! But while larger towns and cities can soak up parking fees, because there’s an expectance you’ll have to pay, the cost of parking on daily basis in market towns is enough to bear, let alone those rare opportunities we get to hold events. Aside the environmental and cost impact of having to circulate a town centre twelve times looking for free on-street parking, it is economically detrimental too.

Maybe what is needed is people power, a protest over the changes to free parking, rather than individual town councils cherry-picking events to single out and cover the cost of with public money, when what events are important to some are maybe not as important to others, and in turn, other events are more important to them, if you catch my meandering drift?!

And what needs addressing, is this raking back the budget deficit of more than £27 million from the public for the clear misuse of public spending by our county council, the millions forked out to pay for a PCC re-election, because the thought of anything other than a Conservative PCC is unbearable for them, for example.

Devizes councillors will meet on Tuesday March 29th to decide on whether to fund the parking for this year’s canoe race. A town council spokesman said Wiltshire Council had requested talks on how the cost of Devizes funding the race could be minimalised. Here’s a thought, park them on the Green. If they’re rowing to Westminster I’m sure carrying a canoe to the canal from the Green is child’s play?

Here’s another thought, and it is just a thought; all for one and one for all. If the Canoe race gets free parking so too should our other major events.


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