Parking boost for town

Mill street carpark. Ref shs 6858-21-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Mill street carpark. Ref shs 6858-21-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth’s business community said ‘sense had prevailed’ after 34 short-stay spaces were made available to town centre shoppers.

Mill Street car park became ‘public’ this week and will operate on a pay-and-display basis, following a review by its owner, East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Previously, the car park was run exclusively for the benefit of customers who paid to reserve a parking space for their own use.

EDDC’s decision to treble the prices of the permits to £1,800 in 2014 was met with opposition by residents and businesses. Following further review last year, councillors agreed to operate the unused reserved parking spaces as a public car park instead.

A chamber of commerce spokesman said: “The chamber broadly welcomes the introduction of pay-and-display at Mill Street, as this will make available a large number of spaces which have not been used at all during the last 12 months.

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“Anything is better than the situation that has existed over that period. It has been quite a debacle, to say the least.”

The spokesman added that the chamber was concerned about proposals to develop the site for affordable housing, as the car park was vital for the redevelopment of Eastern Town and Port Royal.

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An EDDC spokesman said: “For the foreseeable future, EDDC has no plans to do anything with this site, other than to continue to use it as a public short-stay car park.

“We have and will continue to listen to the views of businesses and residents and will monitor usage to make sure that we are making the best possible use of the town’s assets.”

Goviers’ owner, Alan Morgenroth, said the town had a long way to go to solve its parking issues.

The business owner, who has been in Sidmouth for more than 30 years, said: “To say this is wonderful news about Mill Street is like me hitting my head against a brick wall for an hour and it feels better now I have stopped.

“We need some big vision for the town for car parking. Whether a multi-storey car park is the right one or not, I’m not sure, but we need car parking in Sidmouth. The town is no longer the shopping destination that it used to be.”

Short-stay parking spaces will be available for £1-per-hour, for the first two hours, and £3 for four hours - a tariff that has not been increased for the sixth consecutive year.

Speaking on behalf of Sidmouth Town ward members, Cllr Matt Booth said: “Parking in the town centre is at a premium and the introduction of a pay-and-display at Mill Street on a comparable low pricing rate should be welcomed and will, one hopes, provide a positive benefit to small businesses and residents.”

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