Parking charges set to rise

PUBLISHED: 11:41 11 March 2010 | UPDATED: 01:02 16 June 2010

BUSINESS owners describe the charges as a stealth tax and shoppers have dubbed them a joke but, as East Devon inches out of recession, the district s car parks are about to get a little more expensive.

BUSINESS owners describe the charges as a "stealth tax" and shoppers have dubbed them "a joke" but, as East Devon inches out of recession, the district's car parks are about to get a little more expensive.

From April 1 the hourly rate at most East Devon District Council-run car parks will increase from 85p to £1.

According to the council, a majority of those responding to an online survey wanted the charges to increase.

Now notices have been erected in car parks affected by the rise, including Lace Walk in Honiton.

The Midweek Herald asked readers to share their views on the new charging system.

Christine Fowler, of Honiton, said: "No way would I pay £1 an hour.

"Car parks should be free - to get us to shop in town."

Nicky Jarvis said: "I would say it was an April fool's joke, because we would be fools to pay that."

Alastair McCollum says he already avoids council car parks at 85p an hour.

He said: "The disappointing thing in Axminster is that people park at Tesco, because there is a council pay and display car park outside Co-op - therefore, Tesco get a lot more trade, and the Co-op and the town centre don't, because their car park is free.

"I think it is just short-sightedness on the part of the council, hammering long-term trade by changing people's shopping habits."

Parking charges represent East Devon District Council's richest income stream, other than council tax.

Supporters of the rise say it will keep council tax bills down and that many people would find the £1-an-hour charge simpler.

Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry has opposed the increase.

Honiton's mayor, Councillor Vivienne Ash, who is also a district councillor, recently expressed sympathy for town centre traders struggling to recover from the recession.

She told a meeting that a "quick win" can, sometimes, have devastating effects on communities.

l WHAT do you think? Will you pay the charge or park elsewhere. Will parking be displaced to residential areas? Email your views to midweek@archant.co.uk


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