Cash from car parking still a vital part of East Devon District Council’s £25m income.

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Cash from car parking remains a vital part of East Devon District Council’s £25m income, Honiton Town Council heard last week.

District councillor Phil Twiss responded to comments made by MP Eric Pickles, who had called for councils to put a stop to “milking a cash cow” in a bid to boost high streets.

Councillor Twiss said: “Car parks in East Devon are a vital part of our £25m income.”

He explained car parking revenue figures were “pretty stable” and the money taken from parking machines and permits provided approximately £3,482,000 of the £25m of EDDC’s income.

The meeting heard that peak car parking capacity was not an issue and that car parks like Lace Walk were being used during the main 8am to 2pm period.

Councillor Twiss added: “The challenge is off-peak parking and extending the service. What we want to do is to extend and encourage people with discounted off-peak rates.”

He explained that discussions were taking place with Axminster Chamber of Commerce for a dual ticketing system to encourage people to stay and shop in the town for longer.

Councillor Twiss said: “If we were to offer free parking or cut tariffs we would have to shut toilets, stop grass being cut and make decisions on which services to cut, how many people to lay off – that is why car parks are important and shows how tight this budget is this year.”

Councillor Vivienne Ash, an alderman, said the cost of parking was a key issue, especially for businesses who were struggling in the current economic climate and asked if there was a more positive way of looking at the issue.

She welcomed news of the discussions of a dual ticketing system in Axminster and that EDDC is looking at ways to help Axminster.

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