Plans to turn Sidmouth car park into pay-and-display facility could force closure of pet shop

PUBLISHED: 12:12 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:46 26 September 2019

James and Liza McLean with their petition with their daughter Eris and dog Fink. Ref shs 39 19TI 1680. Picture: Terry Ife

James and Liza McLean with their petition with their daughter Eris and dog Fink. Ref shs 39 19TI 1680. Picture: Terry Ife

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Plans to transform a Sidmouth car park into a pay-and-display facility could force a pet shop out of business, its worried owner has warned.

Temple Street car park in Sidmouth. Ref shs 39 19TI 1669. Picture: Terry IfeTemple Street car park in Sidmouth. Ref shs 39 19TI 1669. Picture: Terry Ife

James McLean, who runs Sidmouth Pets with his wife Liza, said earmarked plans for Temple Street car park have ignited serious fears that his business could suffer from a prolonged lack of trade.

Members of East Devon District Council's (EDDC) Cabinet will meet on October 2 to discuss the proposals to scrap the current two-hour free parking at Temple Street in favour of a pay-and-display facility.

Cabinet papers published by the council said: "Each of our car parking assets incurs a range of direct and other costs associated with ownership, maintenance and management including business rates, electricity charges, boundary and surface maintenance, tree and landscaping maintenance and insurance liability.

"It is suggested that we should now consider the potential for each of the following assets to generate revenue to recover some of these ongoing costs and in some cases to fund overdue repairs and to carry out improvements that will enable us to maximise the potential of each asset."

However, Mr McLean said Temple Street car park 'more than pays for itself' thanks to 20 reserved spaces it boasts, each bringing in sizeable tenant fees each year.

He said: "I think the proposals will really affect us.

"The car park has already had eight new reserved spaces this year - that's already affected the number of people stopping with me.

"We usually have people coming in and taking away 15kg bags of dog food. They need to park close."

Mr McLean said he would like the car park to keep its 11 spaces for customers of Temple Street.

"I am concerned with these plans," he said.

"Competition is really tough nowadays with the supermarkets and online shopping, we have had to provide free same day delivery to try and offer a competitive service."

Mr McLean said the repercussions of making the car park pay-and-display could be 'really harmful' to his business, adding: "My wife and I are greatly worried that this could be the end of us."

Mrs McLean added: "I understand that if this proposal is implemented more revenue for the council would be generated, increasing their profits on parking but I believe councils should not be acting like private car parking businesses whose focus simply is, on profits from car parking alone.

"The council should realise that carrying out this proposal would have knock on effects to its income in other areas, with local businesses unable to trade. Surely the council should see its much wider responsibility to its residents and local businesses."

Mr McLean has launched a petition to fight against the proposals - you can sign a copy at his shop and at other businesses on Temple Street.

The petition reads as follows: "We, the undersigned, oppose plans to impose pay and display parking for the last 11 free spaces in the Temple Street car park. We wish for the council to ensure that parking for the Temple Street shops and businesses remains free for short stay parking."

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