Business leader quits after free car park lost
09:43 14 July 2014
The battle to save Budleigh Salterton’s free shoppers’ car park has been lost, after district chiefs approved charging.
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet had been set to designate the Upper Station Road car park for permit holders only, but in a late compromise suggested by Budleigh Salterton Town Council, decided to make it pay and display.
However, this was far from good enough for business leaders, with Angela Yarwood, chairman of traders’ group Budleigh in Business, resigning from her position.
She said council policies meant she should now concentrate on running her business, the Brook Gallery, and also that she wanted to be able to fully speak her mind.
She said: “Over the last three years, the significant time that I have spent in working with others to establish fair and equitable parking regimes, to directly support our town, its shops, residents and visitors, has been wasted.
“It is heartbreaking that the amount of voluntary time that the traders, the festival organisers, support and networking groups [have spent], is negated by an establishment which does not support our small town.”
The cabinet was told by Budleigh town and district councillor Alan Dent that a pay and display system would be preferred to permits.
He said: “Whilst we believe the best solution is to leave well alone we also believe the amended recommendation (for pay and display) would not overly damage the local economy.”
This amendment was then approved by EDDC, bringing to an end the saga of the car park, which has seen a town council offer to increase its rent from £500 to £6,500 to keep it free rejected.
After the meeting, the town council said: “[We] had met to agree a counter proposal which was put to the cabinet meeting, namely that the car park should be run as a long term pay and display car park, with free use after 6pm.
“Given the terms of the lease, there was nothing that the town council could do to stop EDDC from repossessing the car park.
“Whilst appreciating that this outcome will not please everyone, the town council is of the opinion that this was the best possible result given that EDDC were determined to run the car park themselves.”
However, Mrs Yarwood said that the town council’s proposal had come as a shock to traders, and that the decision: “… will further affect our town centre and its viability.”
She also says covenants which the meeting was told are not enforceable should be produced.
Budleigh Salterton Chamber of Commerce chairman Christine Bentley said: “Pay and display is better (than permits), but I think they just used it as a bargaining tool.
“We are concerned about the impact on trade and on visitors.”