Fifty per cent price hike proposed at popular East Devon car parks – and free facilities could become pay-and-display

East Devon’s free car parks will become pay-and-display and charges at busy spots will rocket by 50 per cent under changes proposed by the district council.

The authority could raise an extra £400,000 a year by hiking costs at its most popular facilities and targeting those where motorists can currently stop off for nothing.

Evening and overnight stay levies will also be imposed at sites where there is presently no cost for drivers at these times.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) currently manages a portfolio of 50 car parks and is reviewing its tariffs for 2019/20.

The proposed changes will go before its cabinet on Wednesday, October 2, with a view to them going out to public consultation.

Members have been told eight free-of-charge public car parks in Exmouth, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Newton Poppleford, Sidbury and Broadclyst should become pay-and-display.

A 50 per cent rise in charges – from £1 to £1.50 per hour – is also being proposed for a dozen car parks in ‘prime areas’.

The sites where spaces are said to be ‘at a premium’ are in Honiton, Exmouth, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Axminster, Seaton and Beer.

It is hoped the increase will ease congestions and see drivers use ‘less-popular’ car parks.

EDDC will also consider offloading facilities to town and parish councils in an ‘asset transfer’.

A ‘promotional tariff’ of £2 all-day parking in the Canaan Way and Brook Street car parks in Ottery St Mary has been proposed.

And cabinet members are also being asked to sign-off a year-long trial of free coach parking in the Seaton Jurassic coach park.

Most EDDC car parks operate on £1 per hour tariffs.

Costs at coastal long-stay facilities are capped at £6 for 24 hours, inland long-stay sites at £3 for 24 hours, and short-stay car parks at £3 for four hours.

In a report to cabinet members, the council’s service lead says: “The £1 per hour tariff has been in place now since 2010 and we have consistently resisted increasing it to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible support for our town centre economies.

“However, we are under increasing pressure to review our activities and move to a position where we are managing all of our car parking assets responsibly and transparently.

“Officers have identified a number of opportunities for consideration here that we believe reflect current good management practice in the car parking sector and will assist us in better strategic management of our off-street parking assets.

“In consequence of these changes, we anticipate that some modest increases in charges will deliver a significant increase in the contribution that car parking fees and charges make to our general fund.”

Free East Devon car parks where charges are proposed are:

  • Upper Station Road car park, Budleigh Salterton  – end leasing to the town council and operate as a long-stay pay-and-display car park;
  • Brook Road car park, Budleigh Salterton – operate as a short-stay pay-and-display car park;
  • The Green car park, Broadclyst – operate as a long-stay pay-and-display car park;
  • School Lane car park, Newton Poppleford – operate as a long-stay pay-and-display car park;
  • Temple Street car park(free for two hours), Sidmouth – operate as a short-stay pay-and-display car park;
  • Blackmore Gardens car park, Sidmouth – operate as a short-stay pay-and-display car park with special arrangements for health centre and library users;
  • Manor Farm Estate car park, Sidbury – operate as either a permit holder or resident reserved space car park;
  • Jarvis Close car park, Littleham Cross, Exmouth – operate as a short-stay pay-and-display car park;

The officer says in his report: “Each of our car parking assets incurs a range of direct and other costs associated with ownership, maintenance and management including business rates, electricity charges, boundary and surface maintenance, tree and landscaping maintenance and insurance liability.

“It is suggested that we should now consider the potential for each of the following assets to generate revenue to recover some of these ongoing costs and in some cases to fund overdue repairs and to carry out improvements that will enable us to maximise the potential of each asset.”

‘High demand’ East Devon car parks where a 50 per cent increase in charges is proposed are:

  • Lace Walk short-stay car park, Honiton;
  • West Street short-stay car park, Axminster;
  • Orchard car park, Seaton;
  • Central short-stay car park, Beer;
  • Ham East, Sidmouth;
  • Ham West,Sidmouth;
  • Roxburgh,Sidmouth;
  • Mill Street, Sidmouth;
  • Rolle Mews car park, Budleigh Salterton;
  • London Inn car park, Exmouth;
  • Imperial Road car park, Exmouth;
  • Queen’s Drive car park, Exmouth.

Each place has at least one alternative where motorists can park for £1 an hour, according to the report.

The officer says: “We manage a number of short-stay car parking assets in prime locations that are extremely popular with our customers, with consequent congestion as motorists drive around looking for (and waiting for) a parking space.

“We are currently giving serious consideration to the challenge of providing suitable and sufficient electric vehicle charging infrastructure around East Devon to support what we believe will become an increasing number of visitors and residents who will be choosing to drive electric (or plug-in hybrid) vehicles over the next few years.

“At present, charging infrastructure requires a significant investment amounting to around £6,000 per parking bay.

“Our proposal is therefore to introduce a 50 per cent tariff increase in these most popular car park locations.

“We anticipate that the higher tariff will encourage some customers to switch to our less popular (and less expensive) car parks thereby alleviating some of the parking stress at the most popular locations.

“We propose to increase the hourly charge in the busiest car parks to £1.50 per hour whilst retaining the current £1 per hour tariff in at least one nearby alternative car park.”

East Devon car parks, currently free in the evenings, where charges are proposed are:

  • Lace Walk short stay car park, Honiton;
  • West Street short stay car park, Axminster;
  • Orchard car park, Seaton;
  • Central car park, Beer;
  • Ham East,Sidmouth;
  • Ham West, Sidmouth;
  • Roxburgh,Sidmouth;
  • Mill Street, Sidmouth;
  • Rolle Mews car park, Budleigh Salterton;
  • London Inn car park, Exmouth;
  • Imperial Road car park, Exmouth;
  • Exmouth Pavilion car park, Exmouth.

The officer says: “Our short-stay car parking tariff currently allows members of the public to park free of charge between 8pm and 6am.

“We know that the evening period (typically 5pm to 9pm and beyond) can be busy and is presently unregulated with no need for enforcement officers to visit during non- charging hours.

“It is proposed to introduce an evening parking charge (initially at a flat rate of just £1) to make a proportionate contribution associated with the facility.”

Interest has been expressed from town or parish councils in Sidmouth and Broadclyst over ‘asset transfers’ while a pilot project is taking place in Beer, the report adds.

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