Parking charge increases could be ‘death knell’ for East Devon high streets
PUBLISHED: 10:37 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:37 03 October 2019
Increases in charges for some of East Devon’s busiest car parks could be the ‘death knell’ for independent traders.
That is the stark warning given by the former chairman of East Devon District Council (EDDC) Andrew Moulding as a consultation was launched into a possible 20 per cent increase in parking tariffs.
EDDC originally proposed to increase the tariff from £1 an hour to £1.50 but have scaled it back to a £1.20 charge which will apply to car parks, including Temple Street in Sidmouth, Imperial Road in Exmouth and Lace Walk in Honiton.
Members also agreed to consult on introducing pay-and-display charges at some car parks which are currently free to use.
An early start to the council's winter parking offer in Ottery St Mary was ratified, as was free daily parking in Seaton's coach park.
EDDC say the changes are being made to encourage people to park at other less-used car parks and to generate between £300,000 and £400,000 for the authority.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday (October 2), Cllr Geoff Pook, portfolio holder for asset management, said: "The proposals for consultation are quite reasonable especially when you start looking at neighbouring areas - £1 is cheaper than many places.
"If you want to look at the real market leaders in this, if you look at the NCP car parks in Lyme Regis, its £2 an hour.
"They have identified what the market rate is."
EDDC service lead Andrew Ennis said: "Our busiest car parks are congested and a long overdue price increase will enable us to better manage our car parks and displace customers to nearby car parks."
However, Cllr Moulding said East Devon's high streets are struggling.
He said: "With the competition of online shopping and out-of-town stores and businesses being faced with high rates - this could be the death knell for some and a bitter pill for some of our residents."
EDDC leader Ben Ingham said: "We aren't doing this for fun, we're not doing this to upset our communities, we are doing this to fill a gap that we've inherited."
"if we don't fill the gap, then we will have to explain to those people that their council tax has to be increased."