Shoppers ‘clock watching’ in Honiton

Parking system has hit trade in Honiton council chairman is told

THE current charging system at car parks in Honiton is hitting trade, the chairman of East Devon District Council has been told.

Margaret Lewis, curator of Allhallows Museum and secretary of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, raised the issue with Councillor Graham Liverton when he made an official visit to Honiton.

Addressing the chamber’s June meeting last Thursday, Mrs Lewis revealed Councillor Liverton was unaware that motorists were spending their time in Honiton clock watching.

She said volunteers are also being affected by the high prices and pre-payment system.

A survey is now being conducted at the museum, so Councillor Liverton can be presented with the evidence.

The chamber and Honiton Town Council are calling for a pay-as-you-leave system to be introduced at Lace Walk car park, with a barrier and new ticket machines being installed.

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Council chiefs have accepted the system would suit a large car park like Lace Walk. However, the cost of implementing the new system would be around �50,000 - cash that will be hard to find during a tight squeeze on council budgets and when widespread cuts are expected.

Councillor Vernon Whitlock, deputy mayor, told the chamber’s committee that the district council had recognised there comes a point when it is not feasible to carry on increasing parking charges - because it could have a detrimental effect on trade.

The chamber believes �1 an hour for parking has already hit businesses. Councillor Whitlock last week asked Diccon Pearce, East Devon District Council’s corporate director, to offer a guarantee that charges will not be increased again.

Mr Pearce was not in a position to make any promises, but indicated it was unlikely in the near future.

Around a quarter of East Devon District Council’s income is raised through parking charges.