Business leaders prepare to fight meter plan - again

Honiton traders on stand-by to hold emergency meeting.

Business leaders in Honiton say it is “disgraceful” that Devon County Council went ahead and bought meters for High Street - before concluding a public consultation over the introduction of on-street parking charges.

The executive committee of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry is on stand-by to hold an emergency meeting - if officials from County Hall do not back down after launching what could be a renewed bid to install the meters.

However, members, along with Honiton Town Council, do not wish to pre-judge proposals and are awaiting the outcome of talks.

A fresh petition opposing the plan will be launched immediately, if the county council decides to press ahead.

“It is criminal to start changing things now and penalising a town that is doing well,” Councillor Vernon Whitlock, Mayor of Honiton, told the chamber’s July meeting last Wednesday.

Chamber secretary Margaret Lewis said it was “disgraceful” that public money was spent on meters before it had been agreed they would be installed.

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“That �300,000 could have been spent on a pay as you exit system in Lace Walk car park,” she told the meeting. “I priced it up a few years ago and it was a lot less than that.

“They will put the meters in on a Sunday when nobody realises.”

The town council has arranged to meet officials from County Hall, who are said to be keen to come up with a solution.

But the chamber’s message is clear: “The solution is that charges are not introduced.”

The chamber’s chairman, Colin Wright, pointed to Seaton’s experience. It had meters installed on the sea front last year.

“Seaton is dying,” he said.