Charges are to rise to £2 per hour in nine East Devon ‘tourist hotspot’ car parks, including Sidmouth Ham (East and West).

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

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet agreed to the rises, which affect several car parks across the district, on Wednesday, February 2, and if approved by full council they will take effect at the start of the next financial year in April.

Councillors say inflation and the introduction of VAT on car parking charges have eaten into the income generated from parking. They believe the £1.1 million generated from the increase is necessary to balance the council’s budget and provide urgently needed funding elsewhere.

The rise will take parking fees in prime locations to levels seen in many other parts of Devon.

To reduce the impact on local residents, residents who pay council tax will be eligible for £10 per month parking permits.

Prices will be capped at £8 for a day’s parking for non-residents or those without a permit.

The move allows Cabinet to restructure the council’s revenue budget, putting an extra £737,000 into staffing.

This includes money for Streetscene, which cleans and maintains public spaces including parks, public gardens and council-owned toilets.

The service, which hasn’t had an investment in staffing in 10 years, is struggling to keep up, with demand for seafront cleaning rising by almost 30 per cent last year alone.

Additional funds will also go into hiring more staff for development management which is struggling to stay on top of record numbers of planning requests.

The revenue boost also allows the council to put £50,000 into its tree strategy, without eating into its climate change budget. A further £159,000 will go into funding the council’s recycling and refuse services.

The council’s chief executive, Mark Williams, said: “There’s no logic why we should be so behind the curve in terms of the way we approach our charging policy for car parks compared to our neighbours.”

He said that with the increase 'the council will be on a much better footing to achieve what it wants to achieve'.