Inland towns to fall in line with coast
Sunday parking charges are set to be introduced in car parks in Ottery St Mary, Honiton and Axminster, with evening charges to be introduced across East Devon.
The district council’s existing car parking fees already treat Sundays as a normal trading day in the coastal towns along with Colyton and Lympstone. But for historic reasons, they have never asked for payment in Ottery St Mary, Honiton and Axminster on Sundays.
But the car parking task and finish forum backed proposals for this to end. Councillors also agreed to introduce a £1 fee for parking between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. at car parks in seven towns in East Devon.
Andrew Ennis, service lead for car parks, told the committee that that prior to the pandemic, they were seeing levels of commercial activity on Sundays that was largely not happening in the past. He said that while they have no data on car park use on Sundays in Ottery St Mary, Honiton and Axminster and it is extremely difficult to estimate revenue they might get from Sunday charges.
Cllr Olly Davey said: “I don’t want to have anomalies and it is only fair we have a level field across the area. I appreciate there will be howls of outrage about this and they will say that it will spell the end of businesses in town centre, but I don’t see why people in one place have to pay and not in another.”
Cllr Andrew Moulding, who represents Axminster, said that he would not be favour of it and it would be very detrimental to those people going to church or using pubs and restaurants.
But the committee voted by four votes to two, with two abstentions, in favour of the proposal to introduce Sunday charges to the three towns.
Cllr Davey said that the £1 fee for overnight parking was not a lot to ask and could generate useful income, and that if trialled for a year, it could be reviewed. But Cllr Maddy Chapman called the decision to be deferred until the pandemic was over. She said: “We will then see how many businesses have actually managed to survive and putting the car parks charges up won’t help.”
The forum voted by five votes to one, with one abstention, for the trial of £1 evening parking charges in Lace Walk short stay car park in Honiton, West Street short stay car park in Axminster, Orchard car park in Seaton, Central car park in Beer, Mill Street, the Ham East and West and the Roxburgh car park in Sidmouth, Rolle Mews car park in Budleigh Salterton and the London Inn car park, Imperial Road car park and Exmouth Pavilion car park in Exmouth.
But the forum voting against making any immediate decisions over the future of several ‘loss making’ car parks in the district, whereby the either generate no income or less than their costs.
They called for the full details around costs for each of the 15 car parks to be brought back to them at a future meeting so they could examine each car park on its own merits before deciding whether to introduce car parking charges, or offer the management of the facilities to parish councils if they wished to keep the car parks free.