Free parking ‘seems impossible’ - EDDC

PUBLISHED: 11:00 06 December 2013


A PROPOSAL to scrap parking charges across East Devon looks to be an ‘impossible’ prospect – but district bosses have vowed to discuss the matter further with business leaders.

Commerce chiefs happy with progress

BUSINESS leaders are ‘delighted’ a new working party has been set up over concerns about car parking charges.

The Association of East Devon Chambers of Commerce (AEDCC) feels charges are too high.

Representatives from the organisation and the district council will discuss the issue and how it could be addressed.

Chairman Colin Wright said: ““We are delighted that the EDDC is setting up a working party with us to develop parking strategies that take into consideration the needs of our towns.

“If there are any businesses that are not already members and would like to join our businesses associations and chambers of commerce, we would welcome your support.”

The Herald revealed last week how the Association of East Devon Chambers of Commerce has tentatively asked the authority to scrap its biggest earner and cover the cost with a ‘modest’ council tax rise.

An East Devon District Council (EDDC) spokesman told the Herald this week that ‘matters of mutual interest’ had been discussed at a meeting on November 5. Talks heard about the outcome of EDDC’s summer parking offer pilots, which are set to continue and be extended into other towns, and a number of ideas for boosting council revenue without increasing charges and for improving car parks were discussed.

“The possibility of scrapping car park fees and recovering the lost income through raising council tax was proposed by the chamber representatives,” said an EDDC spokesman.

“While the council agreed to form a working party to look at a range of ideas, there are a number of clear obstacles to blanket free parking, not least of which is the Government cap on council tax increases.

“Revenue from car parking fees is a legitimate and necessary way for local authorities to earn income, especially as government grants and investment income are falling and costs are rising.

“EDDC has recently carried out a wide-ranging review to ensure that our car parks continue to support our town centre economies whilst taking into account the impact of any changes in the charging structure on the council’s finances.

“A major change such as that proposed by the chambers would initially seem impossible to deliver. Whilst there are significant obstacles, the council is willing to discuss the proposal in more detail.

“Finally, careful study of the impact that parking fees has on shopping habits shows that whilst raising fees may deter some shoppers, reducing fees does not guarantee a surge in high street shopping activity, especially now that so many people shop online.”

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