A campaign against East Devon District Council's parking charge increase has been launched by Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is asking residents and businesses to sign an online petition calling for the rise to be capped at £1.20 per hour.

If 1,500 signatures are collected by Monday (February 21). the issue will be discussed at that evening’s virtual meeting of the full council.

Across the district, the plan is to put charges up to £2 per hour in ‘tourist hotspot’ car parks including The Ham (East and West) in Sidmouth.

An increase to £1.50 per hour will be introduced at others including Sidmouth's Roxburgh, Manor Road, Mill Street and Manor Pavilion car parks.

The district council says the rises are needed to pay for public services, and that local residents who pay council tax can get permits for EDDC car parks.

But the Chamber of Commerce thinks they will be a blow to local businesses.

A spokesperson said: “Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce has always campaigned to keep parking charges reasonable in the town. This has always been widely supported within our community.

“Any increase is unwelcome, but last year EDDC decided that the charge of £1 per hour in the summer should be increased to £1.20 per hour. They announced the increase would be introduced in April 2022. This was confirmed by cabinet and full council.

“Suddenly, and only weeks ago, they decided, without consultation, to increase the charge to £1.50 per hour. Then, remarkably, they increased it again to £2 per hour. And to be introduced in April this year. A 100 per cent increase!!

“EDDC did not express any concern for the impact upon residents who shop in our town centres, or for the beleaguered traders, who have suffered a lot recently, and did so much to support their customers during the pandemic.

“We think that £1.20 is a big enough increase and a fair charge. EDDC should honour the commitment that they made to residents, to our visitors, and to the businesses that they claim to support."

Members of the Chamber will be in the town centre outside Flaunt It this Friday and Saturday from 10.30am until 2.30pm collecting signatures from those who do not have access to the online petition – which can be found on Change.org

Anyone wanting to collect signatures within their business should email sallymynard@btconnect.com and they will receive a petition sheet.