‘We’re not a charity’ - Branscombe beach car park owner hits back after call for camera system to be reviewed

The camera-controlled parking system at Branscombe

The camera-controlled parking system at Branscombe - Credit: Archant

Complaints over a car park camera-ticketing system at one of East Devon’s most popular beaches have prompted calls for it to be reviewed.

But the owners of the Branscombe site say the system is the most effective they have tried, tackles the problem of people not paying, and money raised has helped improve facilities.

Paul Phillips, a retired HR director from Reading, was unhappy to receive a £100 fine, or £60 if paid off early, and saw two subsequent appeals rejected.

He said: “I paid for an hour, but the machine didn’t give a receipt. I was only about 20 minutes. I didn’t overstay.”

Mr Phillips paid as he faced the prospect of debt recovery if he did not.

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“It just puts me off going there again and I feel cheated. It was very expensive for a 20-minute walk on the beach,” he added.

Another car park user from Sidmouth, who didn’t want to be named, said the surveillance-style cameras made her feel unsettled, adding: “It’s such a shame. It’s such a beautiful beach. I haven’t been there since.

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“It gives you a really bad feeling in your stomach when you see the sign to Branscombe.”

County councillor Martin Shaw said: “Parking penalties and enforcement should be seen to be fair.

“Given the numbers of complaints that are made, I think the owners of this car park should review how they are operating it.”

But Anthony Sellick, partner of Sea Shanty Holiday Park, said: “The camera system is a good system because it’s flexible. It’s not a good system for those who don’t pay for their stay.

“We are not a charity. We have just built a new block of toilets here that’s costing three years of car park money to finance. They are not operating the machine correctly.”

Mr Sellick said there were signs that explained the way the car park worked and people could pay extra if they stayed longer than anticipated.

He also said that prices had not gone up since 2007 and a previous pay-and-display system had seen people passing on tickets and waiting for a warden before buying one.

“I don’t see what we can do,” said Mr Sellick.

“We’ve tried everything. We just want people to pay their way.”

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