NO! to pay to park machines in Sidmouth

NO-ONE, including town traders, favours the installation of parking machines in Sidmouth.

NO-ONE, including town traders, favours the installation of parking machines in Sidmouth.

So says the latest newsletter from Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, whose members, at a recent breakfast meeting, unanimously opposed the proposal, which will "obviously increase the cost of shopping in our town centres, discourage tourists and visitors, and give a competitive advantage to out of town shopping centres, where parking is often free and plentiful," says its autumn newsletter.

It says Devon County Council did not include any mention of probable economic impact its parking machine proposal would have on town centres, particularly small traders.

"It seems the left hand has no idea of the activities of the right hand at County Hall, where they are spending millions trying to regenerate town centres, yet they seek to introduce parking machines which will inevitably depress economic activity in the very same locations," says the newsletter.

It says the machines are expensive to install and maintain as well as being unsightly and intrusive "especially in conservation areas like Sidmouth's town centre and Esplanade."

The article continues: "It is hard not to see these proposals as the introduction of a stealth tax upon business and the everyday person who uses our town centre."

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Chamber members say feelings are running high in the town and are concerned the proposal should be dropped "immediately."

They add: "Fortunately, the business community is not fighting this battle alone. The general public is unsurprisingly angry at the prospect."

Sidmouth/Sidford Devon County Councillor and cabinet member for Highways and Transportation, Stuart Hughes said: "We are currently drawing up a shortlist of towns, of which Sidmouth isn't one, which are considered to have the greatest traffic management need for pay and display and we will be seeking discussions with those towns in the near future.