A proposal to introduce pay and display parking in parts of Sidmouth and Honiton is to be scrapped after huge opposition.

The scheme was going to be introduced by Devon County Council in Honiton High Street and on Sidmouth’s Esplanade and parts of Fortfield Terrace.

It would have seen free parking for one hour and then a charge of £1.50 for two hours. In Fortfield Terrace the free period would be 30 minutes, followed by £1 for an hour’s parking.

Devon County Council had said the changes would increase the turnover and availability of short-stay parking in these busy areas, reducing congestion.

Similar schemes had been proposed for Braunton, Crediton, Dartmouth, Okehampton, Salcombe and Tavistock.

But a consultation provoked fierce opposition from residents and businesses in all the relevant towns, with very little support. Concerns were raised about the impact on local shops and businesses and the availability of parking for their employees. People said the existing restrictions – which allow free parking for a limited period – are effective, and believed the proposals were a money-making scheme for the county council.

A report going before Devon County Council’s Cabinet next Wednesday (March 13) recommends withdrawing the pay and display proposals. Instead, the council will invite ideas from the town councils on how they would like to tackle their parking problems.

Council leader John Hart, who will chair the Cabinet meeting, said: "We are listening to the county councillors who have represented their towns very forcefully. We are listening to the residents and businesses in these towns and to their local councils.

"Many of our towns have parking and congestion issues which need to be tackled but it's important that any solution has the support of the local community. We are listening to them."

Devon’s Cabinet member for Highway Management, Stuart Hughes, said: “I do hope that the recommendation not to proceed with the proposals for pay and display in the eight towns shows that the county council has listened to the feedback from the public and local members following the consultation.

“It is now open to the communities on how they would wish to address their parking issues so that joint sustainable solutions can be developed in the future.”

The report makes it clear that the introduction of pay and display was not designed to create an income but to influence travel and parking choices.

It concludes: "Significant objections have been received to the proposals that were advertised and therefore the recommendation is the proposals are not progressed."