Sidmouth trader backed by hundreds in fight to keep Temple Street car park free to use

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

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

A Sidmouth trader who launched a petition to oppose plans to turn a car park into a pay-and-display facility says nearly 1,000 people have backed his cause.

James McLean, who runs Sidmouth Pets with his wife Liza, created the petition after East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced proposals to scrap the current two-hour free parking at Temple Street in favour of a pay-and-display facility.

Since the plans came to light, EDDC has put them on hold. The proposal to make changes to free car parks will not be part of a forthcoming public consultation on paid parking. However, the council's new task force, the task and finish forum (TAFF), will examine car parks across the district and recommend changes.

Mr McLean said: "We are still fighting the cause, but on a better footing because we can fight for our own cause. We should break 1,000 signatures next week.

"When we first started taking names, we thought we only had two weeks - and we were overwhelmed. We had hundreds of people sign. Now, we feel the more the merrier."

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The McLeans have opposed the council's plans to turn Temple Street car park into a paying facility, previously expressing fears that the move could force them out of business.

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.

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Should the council determine Temple Street remains a free facility, Mr McLean said: "It would be the best possible result."

In October, EDDC's cabinet agreed to launch a consultation process on increasing the hourly charge in some car parks from £1 to £1.20.

Changes at the council have meant the final say on parking changes has been taken out of the cabinet's hands.

All councillors will now get a vote on any changes.

Furthermore a meeting of the scrutiny committee last month approved a motion to delay the paid parking consultation until TAFF has reported back.

Mr McLean's 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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