Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Traders in Beer are reeling after shock new charges reveal shoppers will have to pay for parking 24 hours of the day.
Visitors had enjoyed free stays from 6pm until 8am, giving restaurants an evening boost they say was damaged when winter fees were brought in.
Now they face shelling out 50 pence for every half-hour, up to £6 a day – but East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) move has been slammed by residents as parish councillors said they were not made aware of the changes.
Nigel Groves, who runs Beer Post Office and regularly uses the car park in the evening in his role as scout leader, broke the news to them at Monday’s annual parish meeting.
“First they got rid of free winter parking, now they are doing this, and with no consultation,” he said.
“They could have at least gone through the parish council. I think it’s disgraceful. People are going to spend less in Beer in the evening.”
He said if the parish council needed a show of opposition from businesses, he would orchestrate it.
Andy Williams, head chef at the Steamers, said there had been a drop in footfall since winter charges were introduced, but it was unclear if that had been caused by them or the recession. “There used to be a lot more people in the streets and we used to do a lot more daytime trade – I’m concerned to see what will happen,” he added.
District councillor Geoff Pook said as far as he was aware, the car parking regime was going to stay the same.
An EDDC spokesman said there had been two district-wide consultations, adding: “All our other coastal long stay car parks have for many years been subject to charges over a 24-hour period seven days per week. Only Beer Central has not.
“Experience demonstrates that reasonable charges are an entirely appropriate way to manage demand in popular car parks. Research tells us visitors expect to pay for parking when they drive to a new town.
“We do not share the view that the revised charging regime in Beer Central will have a detrimental effect on businesses and their customers.
“On-street parking is still available free of charge for those who choose to look and, for those who don’t, ample parking in a well lit, well maintained car park is still available in a convenient location within this popular village.”