Sidmouth traders’ anger over proposed parking meters.

PUBLISHED: 18:07 15 December 2010

HIGHWAYS chiefs have offered to work with Sidmouth businesses on a town traffic plan after angry traders vented their fury over proposed parking meters.

HIGHWAYS chiefs have offered to work with Sidmouth businesses on a town traffic plan after angry traders vented their fury over proposed parking meters.

Emotions ran high on Wednesday as record numbers attended a charged Chamber of Commerce breakfast to give a grilling to Devon County Council’s (DCC) head of highways management, Lester Wilmington, and cabinet member for highways and transportation, Councillor Stuart Hughes.

Traders tagged mooted ‘park and display’ meters a “waste of money” and pleaded: “Listen to us, we don’t want it. Parking charges are just a way of scaring off customers and visitors.”

DCC has proposed to place nine meters, costing tax-payers £18,000, in High Street, Fore Street, Church Street and Fortfield Terrace.

Sidmouth Garden Centre owner Ian Barlow said: “Businesses pay their rates. All you’re doing every time is putting another nail in the coffin…

“One day you’ll suddenly find the goose that lays the golden egg is gone.”

“If 100 per cent of our retailers say they don’t want parking meters, when will you start listening to us?” said Tim Ford.

Under the proposed scheme, car owners would put their registration into machines to get a ticket. They would be entitled to a free half-an-hour but would have to pay for another hour if they wished to stay.

Mr Wilmington said the move will make parking enforcement officers’ jobs easier and improve drivers’ compliance with parking rules.

He said: “If people complied with the 30 minutes this wouldn’t be needed.

“This is not being done for revenue purposes.”

Traders feared allowing drivers to stay for an hour could reduce the turnover of shoppers.

“If you don’t want one hour waiting as an option then raise it as an objection and we will consider it,” added Mr Wilmington.

An invitation for DCC to work with traders and look at a host of highways issues in the town was accepted by Cllr Hughes who said: “Get a working party together and I’d be pleased to join you.”

Both Mr Wilmington and Mr Hughes promised the half-hour of free parking will remain so “for the life” of the current DCC administration.

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