A proposed 50 per cent price hike at Honiton’s busiest car park will deter shoppers from the high street, a town representative has warned.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) is planning to increase the hourly cost at the popular Lace Walk short-stay facility from £1 to £1.50.
An evening rate of £1 would also be introduced at the site.
The authority is reviewing parking tariffs across the district in a move which could earn it an extra £400,000 a year.
Councillor Luke Jeffery, ward member for Honiton St Michael’s, said: “Such a large increase in charges at some of the most popular car parks will inevitably put people off using EDDC car parks.
“This will further damage high streets in East Devon as many will be less likely to come into our town centres and support local businesses.
“It may also lead to an increase in parking in residential areas ill-equipped to deal with the extra parking.”
EDDC says £1-an-hour parking alternatives to Lace Walk for motorists will still be available at Honiton’s Thema Hulbert Gallery, Silver Street, King Street and New Street car parks.
The authority 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 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.
In a report to cabinet members, EDDC’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.”
The officer adds: “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 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.”