East Devon Conservatives have vowed to oppose plans to increase to car parking charges by 50 per cent – branding them ‘another nail in the coffin of our high streets’.
District council proposals for a price hike at its busiest facilities – and to make free sites pay-and-display – have been slammed as ‘wholly inappropriate’ by local Tories.
“There is only so much juice you can squeeze out of a lemon,” their leader exclaimed today.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) says changing its tariffs could net the authority an extra £400,000 a year.
A 50 per cent rise in charges – from £1 to £1.50 per hour – is 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.
Eight free-of-charge public facilities in Exmouth, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Newton Poppleford, Sidbury and Broadclyst could also become pay-and-display.
Evening and overnight stay levies will also be imposed at dozen sites where there is presently no cost for drivers at these times.
Leader of the East Devon Conservative Group, Councillor Andrew Moulding, warned the move would be ‘yet another nail in the coffin of our high streets, where many businesses are struggling to remain viable and open’.
He added: “These proposals will inevitably deter people from using EDDC car parks to shop or use services in their local high street and local centres, increasing ‘on-street’ parking in areas to avoid paying to park.
“Local chambers of trade and commerce have been lobbying for some time to make car parking more, not less attractive, as is the case with Ottery St Mary, where a flat £2 all day tariff is going to be offered by EDDC, which discriminates unfairly against other places in East Devon.
“The proposal to charge for evening parking at popular car parks in East Devon, which are currently free after 6pm, is the final straw.
The East Devon Conservative Group will not support what is being put forward when it comes to full council for approval and will urge councillors from other groups to reject what is detailed.
“Electors voted for change in May of 2019, not tax hikes, direct or indirect and no-one can think this was the type of change they had in mind”.
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.
A ‘promotional tariff’ of £2 all-day parking in the Canaan Way and Brook Street car parks in Ottery St Mary is also proposed.
Cabinet members are also being asked to sign-off a year-long trial of free coach parking in the Seaton Jurassic coach park.
Fifty per cent price hike proposed at these popular East Devon car parks – and free facilities could become pay-and-display
‘Absurd’ 50% price hike at Sidmouth’s busiest car parks – and pay-and-display at free facilities – ‘could spell disaster for town centre’