'Absurd' plans to hike up prices at Sidmouth car parks could 'spell disaster' for town centre

PUBLISHED: 14:30 24 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:02 24 September 2019

Artwork on the wall of the Ham car park. Ref shs 5321-30-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Artwork on the wall of the Ham car park. Ref shs 5321-30-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Archant

Motorists in and around Sidmouth could be forced to stump up an extra 50p per hour to park their vehicles in the town.

Plans to introduce a higher tariff will be discussed by East Devon District Council (EDDC) on October 2.

Plans are also in the pipeline to introduce a flat-rate evening parking charge, in some East Devon car parks, of £1 between 5pm and 9pm - bringing an end to free parking after 6pm.

Cabinet papers published by EDDC say the new tariffs could bring the council an extra £100,000 per year.

If the plans are approved, the tariffs will increase to £1.50 per hour at Sidmouth's Ham East, West and Roxburgh car parks, and the car park in Mill Street.

A proposal has also been put forward to transform Temple Street car park into a pay-and-display facility.

At present, it offers two hours of free parking.

The proposed hike in tariffs has been branded as 'absurd' by Councillor Stuart Hughes, EDDC ward member for Sidmouth Sidford.

He said: "This could spell disaster for our town centre here in Sidmouth whose businesses rely on local residents footfall as well as visitors.

"These proposed astronomical charges, along with introduction of pay-and-display in important local centres such as Temple Street, could drive the final nail in the coffin for those already struggling to keep their heads above the water.

"I have already been approached by one Temple Street trader who is organising a petition and I shall be making sure theirs and our towns views on this are known at Blackdown House in Honiton."

EDDC wants to charge a flat rate of £1 between 5pm and 9pm at Ham East, West and Roxburgh and at Mill Street.

The authority says this will make a 'proportionate contribution' to management, enforcement and car park wear-and-tear costs.

The council's cabinet papers said some of the additional revenue generated from the new tariffs could be reinvested to help accelerate its programme of delivering charging infrastructure locally.

The papers say: "The £1 per hour tariff has been in place now since 2010 and we have consistently resisted increasing it to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible support for our town centre economies.

"However, we are under increasing pressure to review our activities and move to a position where we are managing all of our car parking assets responsibly and transparently."

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