Sidford business owners speak out about fears for village’s future

Church Street car park, Sidford. Ref shs 06 18TI 7179. Picture: Terry Ife

Church Street car park, Sidford. Ref shs 06 18TI 7179. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A proposed hike in parking charges has seen business owners speak out about their fears for Sidford’s future.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) wants to review its parking tariffs and permits.

If agreed, car parks - including the one in Church Street, Sidford, will be brought into line with the authority’s standard long-stay tariff of £1 per hour and £3 for 24 hours, applying 24 hours a day from Monday to Saturday.

The rate in Sidford is currently 20p per half-hour, which could rise to 50p. The rate of 40p for an hour could rise to £1.

At the latest EDDC cabinet meeting, the authority agreed to a public consultation on the proposals.

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A number of business owners have now spoken out about their concerns and the potential impact on Sidford’s future.

Andy Downham, of The Rising Sun, said: “The businesses in Sidford are desperate for people to come in.

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“We will all be so disappointed if car parking charges go up.

“Eventually people will be put off.

“We already have people that park on the main road outside the shops to avoid paying.”

Mr Downham said traders had already lost so many shops. They want to regenerate the area and make people feel like they could visit the shops and then go for a haircut, before enjoying a nice meal at the pub.

He added the changes may bring in more revenue for the council, but it would take it away from local businesses.

John, the owner of Central Garage, said: “It is troubling. I think it will make people think twice before parking there.

“There used to be so many businesses here. There used to a post office, which is now flats, there used to be a butchers – it is now flats. “One day the garage will be knocked down and will become flats. It is obvious what will happen in the next 10 to 15 years.”

Anne Xu, the owner of Bloaters, said: “We are a small business and I think it will have an impact on all the businesses.

“We have already had some customers complaining about the charge for the car park and that they can’t just pop in to buy something for 15 minutes without paying.

“People already mind the charge now.”

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “This is a consultation exercise and we are genuinely interested in hearing people’s views on these proposals and we will also be inviting people to let us have their thoughts about realistic alternatives.

“The Council does have a duty to all residents of East Devon to make the best possible use of its land holdings and the Council is obliged to manage its car park assets responsibly on behalf of tax payers.

“We believe that an open and transparent regime of fair and proportionate car parking charges in key locations does not in itself discourage people from visiting and spending time in those locations.”

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