'Unfair' for villages to subsidise Budleigh's free car park says district council leader
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 October 2019
Budleigh Salterton has been told it is 'unfair' to expect village communities in East Devon to subsidise the town's free car park.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) leader Ben Ingham was speaking as the cabinet was discussing proposals to introduce pay-and-display to the Upper Station Road Car Park.
At the meeting, on Wednesday (October 2), it was agreed to put the proposal out to consultation.
Councillor Ingham said an existing covenant from landowner Clinton Devon Estates requires the district council to provide a car park but does not specify that it has to be free of charge.
He also suggested that Budleigh Salterton Town Council consider reinstating a contribution it used to make to the district council for the car park.
Ward member Cllr Tom Wright said the town council has contributed 'thousands of pounds a year' to the district council.
Cllr Ingham said: "What I don't think is fair is to expect small villages to subsidise those bigger communities year after year.
"Since 1974, Budleigh Salterton has enjoyed a great privilege in having free parking.
"The town council, who used to make a contribution to East Devon District Council, has chosen not to meet the request of EDDC.
"Why should the small village communities subsidise a free car park in Budleigh when they (the town council) have the reserves to do it themselves?
"Now is the time perhaps to think again about making a contribution."
Cllr Wright said: "Budleigh Salterton has contributed many thousands of pounds and the reason it has reserves is to pay for maintenance.
"That car park is not free, Budleigh Salterton Town Council pays for that car park."
Fellow ward councillor Alan Dent said he has 'severe reservations' about the proposals for Budleigh's free car park.
He said: "The free Station Road car park is heavily used and regularly full by 10.30 every morning.
"Most of the people who use this car park are workers at high street shops and some are tradesmen working in the town."
The consultation will also include proposals to make the free Brook Road Car Park pay-and-display and raise the hourly rate of the Rolle Mews car park from £1 to £1.20.