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Trade worry prompts rethink over parking bays

10:00 17 May 2014

Beer business owners’ fears of a loss of evening trade could be alleviated if plans to reclaim a number of parking spaces get the green light.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) last month brought the central car park in line with its other long-stay facilities, removing long-enjoyed free overnight parking.

Many shops and restaurants saw this as another blow to tourism in Beer, and left some residents without permits out of pocket – but district councillor Geoff Pook thinks he has a solution.

Following a similar set-up elsewhere in the district, he suggested Beer’s central car park could offer a strip of 33 short-stay bays, which would be near the entrance to be easily accessible.

“This will give a number of free night-time spaces as traders wanted and [in the daytime] the short-stay spaces will encourage churn [of shoppers],” said Cllr Pook, at last Tuesday’s parish council meeting.

The move came after business owners expressed consternation at shock new charges they said would see fewer people spending less in the village in the evening.

EDDC standardised parking across its long-stay facilities, with new fees applying 24 hours a day. They were previously only enforced from 8am until 6pm.

Beer Post Office owner Nigel Groves said: “It’s certainly a way forward but probably an expensive one.

“I don’t see why they can’t just change it back into a daytime one – but that’s probably not the way EDDC sees it.”

Cllr Darren Clinch, who did not attend the meeting but left a statement, which was read by Cllr Trevor Wood: “He is not in favour of short stay parking. There is free parking available.”

He asked not to seek a solution to a problem that does not exist.

An EDDC spokesman said: “The council is sympathetic and is actively considering Beer’s request to reclassify 33 of the parking bays in Beer Central car park for short stay parking.

“Short stay bays tend to turn over more frequently between 8am and 6pm and therefore do not need to generate revenue between 6pm and 8am. With no evening charges, this should help allay the fears of Beer traders over potential loss of evening trade.”

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