It pays for public toilets and street cleaning, and has been deemed by EDDC as “essential”.

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East Devon District Council expects to rake in £2.2million from car parking charges in the current financial year, the Midweek Herald can reveal.

That is the figure the council has budgeted for as ‘net income’ from pay and display car parks across the district.

However, the authority is keen to point out that the sum is “essential” - it is keeping council tax bills down by a whopping 38 per cent.

The revenue pays for the upkeep of parks and gardens, as well as street cleaning and public loos.

Without the cash, the council says many of the amenities residents take for granted would have to close.

A spokesman told the Herald: “Net car park income is budgeted in 2012/13 to be £2,234,760.

“This income is essential in supporting services provided by the council.

“If this income were lost EDDC would have to raise council tax by £38.80 (32 per cent of the proportion of the council tax retained by East Devon District Council) to make good the income to continue running existing services.

“Or to save this sum we would have to stop street cleaning, close all public conveniences and the majority of parks and gardens.”

The spokesman added: “Council tax is a charge on every household in the district and, since there is no choice on payment, it is a tax. With car parking it is a charge on use, whether you live in or outside the district, and you have a choice whether to incur payment or not.”

The council says that, to further reduce the burden on local residents and visitors, it offers weekly, six-monthly and yearly permits that enable regular customers to use car parks at a substantially discounted rate.

Although the permit fees and charges are under review this year, the council insists “they will continue to represent excellent value for money for regular customers”.

With the cash tariff in most of the council’s car parks currently set at £1 per hour, examples of the discounts include £21 for a weekly permit, £109 (or a little over £2 per week) for an annual town permit and £161 (or a little over £3 per week) for an annual district-wide permit.

l What do you think? Comment below or email midweek@archant.co.uk

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