Thursday, February 7, 2013
Report calls for action to boost East Devon’s town centres.
Business leaders from across East Devon are to be asked to lobby the district council for a decrease in parking charges - from £1 an hour to 50p.
A report, which will be considered by the East Devon Chambers of Commerce next month, also calls on the council to put up its share of the council tax by 38p per week.
Terry Farebrother, an administrator of the organisation and former chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is the author of the report.
He said of his proposals: “This would maintain the £2million in the pot, transform the prospects of our town centres at a stroke and give the boost that our high streets are looking for.
“It is a small price to pay for improving our town centres and could even result in a 20 per cent increase in visitors who would stay longer in our towns and give our retail outlets much-needed help in this recession.”
Mr Farebrother says he is concerned that the council is spending £400,000 a year to pay a private security firm to empty parking meters.
He wants ‘pay on exit’ barrier systems introduced across the district and parking enforcement officers retrained so they can collect the revenue. Pointing out that it cost just 70p to park all day less than 10 years ago, he added: “Something needs to change and, hopefully, East Devon District Council is listening but, if not, Government intervention may be the only answer.”
Eric Pickles MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who described parking charges as “a cash cow”, is to be informed of business leaders’ concerns.
Currently, East Devon is ranked 58th out of 358 local authorities for the profit it makes from parking.
“Considering the size of East Devon, that is nothing to be proud of,” said Mr Farebrother. “Retailers in our town centres are very resilient and only want a level playing field to compete with out-of-town stores which have free parking.”