‘No’ to free use of car park

Church Street Sidford. Ref shs 1295-04-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Church Street Sidford. Ref shs 1295-04-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Calls to make Sidford’s car park free - in order to ‘breathe life’ into the village - have been rebuked by the authority that owns the site.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is responsible for the Church Street facility and responded to complaints by saying the 20 pence charge for 30 minutes parking is ‘fair and reasonable’.

But members of the public have expressed their anger at having to fork out at all for a quick trip to the shops, with one resident saying ‘it’s a joke having to pay for a car park that was given to the village years ago’.

County councillor Stuart Hughes has backed those speaking out against the fee, and said he has tried to have the charges reversed before.

“I always felt that this car park should have remained free, or at least have 30 minutes free parking, which would have allowed shoppers to go about their business,” he said.

“This small measure would help breathe more life into the Sidford local centre.”

Cllr Hughes said it ought to be possible to implement such a system as it has been done successfully by the county council in Dawlish Warren.

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Alfie Weaver, 18, of Temple Street, Sidmouth, said: “Some people from Sidbury and surrounding areas use the car park just to pop into the local shop.

Paying for five minutes, I think, is a tad annoying.”

He agreed that an initial 30-minute free parking should be implemented and drivers could be charged a small fee after that.

But Sidford High Street resident Linda Morling said the charge does seem fair.

“I pay around £100-a-year for a parking permit to include Sidford, so why should others not pay too?” she said.

An EDDC spokesman said: “We believe that the 20 pence charge for half-an-hour’s car parking in our in Sidford is both fair and reasonable – in fact this is our lowest tariff across all our car parks in East Devon.”

He added that if the council did not charge for the use of the ‘popular’ car park, it would need to raise the lost revenue in other ways and pointed out the price has not increased for the last five years.

“Pay and display is a simple and efficient tool for managing small, popular car parks to ensure spaces become available for those who wish to use them,” he added.

“We simply practise good, common sense measures that are fair to motorists and help support high street retailers.”

The authority also confirmed there is no free, 10-minute parking period in any EDDC car parks, but enforcement officers must now wait that long as a grace period, before issuing a penalty charge notice.