On-street parking fees ‘a tax on shoppers’

Councillors join traders in protest.

THE introduction of parking charges in High Street, Honiton, will do nothing to combat congestion or improve air quality.

That is the view of Colin Wright, the chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who has been inundated with complaints about the Devon County Council scheme ever since the Midweek Herald broke the story two weeks ago.

“It is a revenue stream - that’s all,” said Mr Wright.

“The council says the scheme will increase turnover at on-street parking spaces. How is that going to improve air quality?

“Traders in Honiton can’t put A-boards on the pavement, but the county council can install 10 to 15 pay and display machines. Where is the planning permission for this?”

Mr Wright says the machines will cost around �2,000 each.

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He believes they would not be needed if East Devon District Council spent �20,000 implementing a pay on exit system at Lace Walk car park.

“There would be no need for enforcement officers and it would be a better deal for the public,” he said.

Meanwhile, Honiton Town Council heard strong words against the scheme at a meeting on Monday.

Deputy mayor Councillor Vernon Whitlock described the new parking charges as “a stealth tax on shoppers”.

“For its 750 year history as a market town, Honiton has provided services for those who pass through High Street,” he said. “During all that time, people have tied up their horses, left their wagons and parked their cars for free.

“This decision, by the Conservative administration of Devon County Council, threatens to end that tradition.

“It is a decision that will drive people from the High Street and send them to the supermarkets, with their free parking.

“High Street shops and businesses will suffer.”

Councillor Whitlock doubts public transport will benefit from the revenue generated by the charges.

He pointed out that local bus services are being cut by the county council with no consultation.

Towns and businesses across East Devon are now being urged to back a co-ordinated fight against the proposals. l Honiton’s High Street is the subject of an Air Quality Management Order.