SPECIAL REPORT: Multi-storey car park or park-and-ride for Sidmouth?

Conservative councillor Stuart Hughes is defending is Sidmouth division at the Devon County Council

Conservative councillor Stuart Hughes is defending is Sidmouth division at the Devon County Council elections - Credit: Archant

What is best for Sidmouth - a multi-storey car park, or a park-and-ride?

Cllr Ian Thomas. Picture: SUBMITTED

Cllr Ian Thomas. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

That was one of many controversial discussions had at a meeting with MP Sir Hugo Swire last week.

Sir Hugo dubbed parking as one of the town’s ‘big issues’, although it did generate a lot of money for East Devon District Council (EDDC), which he said did not have many ways of generating revenue.

Sir Hugo said the consensus in the House of Commons last Wednesday (April 9) was that the Government could start looking at doing something - like two free hours of parking - to encourage more people to shop in town centres.

However, questions were raised at the meeting by Sidmouth business owners about who would cover this cost.

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Sir Hugo suggested the town considers a multi-storey car park – built on top of the Ham car park or in the Port Royal area.

He said: “People think multi-storey car parks are those hideous 1960s concrete blocks. They don’t have to be like that - they can be wrapped in affordable housing or in shops, you can do all sorts of things.”

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Councillor Stuart Hughes, who is responsible for highways at Devon County Council, dismissed the idea and said: “I think it is the completely wrong place for a multi-storey car park.

“I am not in favour of putting one on the Ham car park because all you’re going to do is attract more traffic through the town and that is something we want to get away from.”

Cllr Hughes instead suggested placing a multi-storey car park in Manor Road, or a park-and-ride at the top of Woolbrook.

Cllr Ian Thomas, responsible for finance at EDDC, said a multi-storey would need to be justified all year round, otherwise no-one would find the money to do it and Sidmouth only needed something for the summer.

Steve Clarke, of The Rendezvous, backed the idea for a park-and-ride and said the town needed a gimmick. He added: “I have been to a lot of places and, in my experience, wherever there is multi-storey, there is trouble like theft and drugs.

“A park-and-ride for the summer would suit Sidmouth perfectly, but it needs a gimmick – it might be an open-air bus or maybe an electric train to bring people into town.”

Town councillor Ian Barlow said a great place for this would be Knowle.

Email sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk and tell us what you think.

Read more about the meeting held with MP Sir Hugo Swire here:

Does Sidmouth have too many charity shops?

Should Sidmouth have affordable housing in its town centre?

Business rates are ‘not sustainable’ says MP at urgent Sidmouth talks

Calls for levy on internet shopping made by Sidmouth’s MP

Sidmouth’s MP vows to take town’s high street woes to Government - and calls for future vision

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