No parking charge hikes before 2021, says district council leader

Orchard car park at Seaton. Picture Chris Carson

Orchard car park at Seaton. Picture Chris Carson - Credit: Archant

Any increases to parking charges will not be implemented until April 2021, rather than April 2020 as originally planned, according to the leader of the district authority.

Ben Ingham, East Devon District Council's independent leader, suggested NIMBYism (not in my back yard) by councillors contributed to the delay to the extra revenue.

A consultation has been held into raising the hourly charge in many car parks from £1 to £1.20.

In October a motion was passed which puts the final decision on any changes to parking in the hands of the full council, rather than the cabinet. No party has overall control of Independent-led EDDC.

Cllr Ingham said: "Any savings we make are delayed by one year of increased revenue, which means it's going to be even more difficult then - so I hope they realise that - but that's the nature of the beast.

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"Their criticism was that we haven't thought it through. I think we had and I think what we'd done was largely acceptable, although councillors may want to ruffle their feathers and say: 'Not in my back yard.'"

Cllr Paul Millar, who put forward the motion to put any changes to parking charges in the hands of the full council, said car parking strategy remains with the cabinet, but that now the full council has a chance to veto any decision.

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He said the 'opposition to the price hikes was not nimby-ism', adding that 'whether you live in Exmouth, Honiton, Sidmouth or Axminster, you'll know there are many working-aged residents on modest income who are...struggling to make ends meet' due to austerity.

He said: "Putting up charges would be pricing people out of using local businesses and our high streets if those proposals had been allowed to go through."

The motion, he said, was 'absolutely not about ruffling feathers', adding that the cabinet 'had not considered the wider economic or social impact'. He said there are 'less socially harmful ways of saving the council money'.

The parking proposals originally included the introduction of charges at a number of free car parks. This idea was dropped following public criticism, although EDDC has said it will 'no doubt be considered again' by a forum set up to look into parking changes.

Cllr Ingham said: "I'm only trying to make it fair for all. So I am disappointed by that but I accept that and we may do some more moving forward."

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