A town leader has branded plans to increase parking charges in Sidmouth a 'dangerous thing to do'.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has unveiled plans to raise the cost of parking in its car parks to a baseline £1.50p per hour, with the rise increasing to £2 an hour at selected sites - including Ham east and west in the town.

Charges will be capped at £8 per day.

Currently, parking costs £1 per hour, up to a maximum of £6.

The council says the rises are necessary in order to balance the books, and invest in areas like the Streetscene team, which maintains parks, public gardens and public toilets.

It estimates the rises will bring in an extra £1.1 million.

But Ian Barlow, chair of Sidmouth Town Council, said increasing the costs disproportionately at popular visitor sites meant towns were 'punished for their beauty'.

"You can't keep taking from a town and not putting back into it," he said.

"For example, they are talking about removing our (public) toilets.

"If you want to attract people into our town, you make sure that the area is stunning, so it's worth going to.

"But they're not doing that.

"Taking the toilets away, cutting back on this, that and the other, putting the parking charges up, it's a dangerous thing to do."

Sidmouth Herald: Charges at Ham East and West car parks in Sidmouth will rise to £2 per hourCharges at Ham East and West car parks in Sidmouth will rise to £2 per hour (Image: Google Street View)

He said the increase should have come in smaller increments each year.

"It's a shame they haven't had the guts to do it bit by bit, over the years, in line with inflation," Cllr Barlow added.

"They've done it all in one go.

"And it's a shame we're being targeted because of our beauty."

Chris Parkin, owner and manager at Fore Street store, Housewares, said the rise wouldn't help businesses in the town.

He said: "It is what it is, I don't think anything that is happening in the town is helping.

"Yes, these things have to go up (like parking charges) but how easy are they making it for people to do it?

"They have got to make it easy, with machines, or the app, or a contactless card machine."