Sidford car parking rises deferred after concerns about businesses

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

Plans to increase car parking charges in Sidford have been put on hold after concerns were raised about the ‘severe consequences’ the hike could have on businesses.

Charges at Church Street car park in Sidford were due to be brought in line with the other car parks in the district, rising from 40 pence to £1 for an hour’s parking – an increase of 150 per cent.

But, East Devon District Council (EDDC) agreed to look again after objections were raised about the car park at its cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

Richard Eley, president of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, said the increases would have severe consequences for the viability of the village.

He said: “Any loss of shopping facilities in Sidford would have serious consequences for local residents, especially those without a car. As far as we are aware, this change has not been requested by any councillor, organisation or ordinary citizen, and is completely unwanted. We are also confident it will not bring in any extra revenue for EDDC.”

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Councillor Marianne Rixson, district ward member for Sidford, said the recommendations would only generate an extra £43.50 a day and did not reflect the view of the residents or business owners.

She said: “Sidford has already lost many shops over the years. Everyone knows that retail is suffering, and then the local council decides to hike up the cost of parking to your customers by a whopping 150 per cent.

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“Taking Sidford Spar as an example – why would anyone pay a 50 pence premium for half an hour to buy a loaf of bread or pint of milk when they can drive to Temple Street and park for nothing or onto Waitrose and park for nothing, or even Newton Poppleford and park for nothing?”

Cllr Geoff Pook, EDDC portfolio holder for asset management, said that the council had listened carefully to what had been said during the public consultation and the cabinet report recommendations reflected the view of the respondents.

Cllr Marcus Hartnell said he supported the principle of simplifying the charges but was sympathetic to Sidford, particularly as parking on the main road would be a bigger problem.

EDDC leader Cllr Ian Thomas proposed that the report and its charges be adopted, but that the changes proposed to Church Street be referred back to officers.

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