‘Parking charges will cost Exmouth venue a significant sum’
PUBLISHED: 08:30 22 February 2018
A couple who have helped older residents stay active for the last 19 years fear new parking charges at an Exmouth venue could spell the end of their events.
Paul and Carole Eden say the guests at their tea dances and Latin on Line singles sessions are being penalised because the events are in the daytime when the fees apply.
And they worry the car park – which had been free until owner East Devon District Council (EDDC) realised charges could be introduced – will fill with visitors to the seafront rather than the venue.
Writing to EDDC chief executive Mark Williams, Mr Eden said: “Being satisfied with the venue and all its associated facilities, we agreed to a rolling yearly hire contract, which has continued uninterrupted for 19 years.
“When we signed this year’s agreement, it naturally followed we and our guests would continue to have free use of all those facilities for the term of the agreement.”
Mr Eden claimed the costs at the Pavilion make his events the most expensive of their kind in the South West.
He said if the car park is full of non-Pavilion users it will be ‘impossible’ for his regular supporters to attend, adding: “Given the age of our guests, this will seriously impact on admissions and we believe, at the very minimum, fold the tea dance.”
Mr Eden argued it was ‘unjust’ that tea dance attendees have to pay for parking just because it is held during the day, when charges will apply – and history has shown that such regular events cannot easily be replaced.
The new charges, set to begin on March 30, were only revealed at this month’s cabinet meeting after Councillor Rob Longhurst, who runs events at the Pavilion, received a letter.
Members raised concerns that officers were making decisions without the oversight of elected councillors, but a spokeswoman said EDDC was already authorised to implement a pay and display regime.
The cash will be used to recover the £25,000 cost of resurfacing the car park. A contract has already been agreed for the work.
The spokeswoman said the car park is currently unregulated so there was no guarantee Pavilion guests could use it, but reserved parking could be negotiated for specific events.
Mr Eden said he understood there would be a partial refund for users, although this will be subject to a consultation exercise.
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