Spotlight falls on East Devon car parking charges and public loo cleanliness

A probe into increased car parking charges in East Devon and if public loos are clean – or open – begins later this week with round-the-table discussions.

Car parks and toilets in East Devon are to come under the spotlight as Councillors get back to business after the summer break, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

The agenda for the East Devon District Council (EDDC) scrutiny committee meeting for Thursday (September 7) includes two calls for action from Cllr Mike Goodman (Con, Sidmouth Sidford).

He wants a review of the district’s public toilets, and in particular their cleanliness.

East Devon public toilets. Image: EDDC

East Devon public toilets. Archive image: EDDC

And he is also asking for parking charges to be reviewed after recent rises prompted claims that they had become the most expensive council car parks in the region.

In 2022 the charges doubled to £2 an hour in the most popular car parks, and opposition Conservative Councillors said they are concerned that higher parking rates were negatively impacting local businesses in major towns such as Exmouth and Sidmouth.

In his question to the scrutiny committee, Cllr Goodman said: “The cost of parking in East Devon and in particular the coastal areas increased by 100 per cent in 2022.

“This made our car parks the most expensive operated by the council in the south west.

“I would like this to be reviewed and to consider a policy going forward. I would like the review to be evidence-based, including the views of businesses.”

Cllr Goodman wants to know the effects of the charges on the council, tourists and local businesses.

His statement continues: “If the evidence reflects the high tariff is not achieving its original aims without affecting businesses and others, the council should consider a change to the tariff and a future strategy.”

The council’s cabinet has already indicated that it will consider the effect of the parking charges in the autumn.

Cllr Goodman also wants action on loos. He said: “Several public toilets have been closed or sold off and the standard of cleanliness in some toilets is not acceptable. I would like to see a review of all public toilets in terms of those open and their cleanliness.

“Some time ago there was a review with some toilets being closed and others being taken on by other councils. It is timely that the consequences of these decisions are reviewed.”

Cllr Goodman called for “an agreed policy of public toilets going forward and a contractor who cleans the toilets to an acceptable standard.”

Police investigating criminal damage and thefts from vehicles in an East Devon town and village are appealing to trace two teenagers