You will still have to pay for 'free' parking

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:44 15 June 2010

EAST Devon District Council may be willing to reconsider offering periods of free parking in the run-up to Christmas but not for this year and only if Honiton Town Council makes up the shortfall in revenue.

EAST Devon District Council may be willing to reconsider offering periods of free parking in the run-up to Christmas - but not for this year and only if Honiton Town Council makes up the shortfall in revenue.That's what district councillor Peter Halse, who is in charge of car parks, told town councillors on Monday night.He claimed the town council's budget is not capped and that it could precept a figure that could be paid to EDDC.Car parking revenue is the only big income stream to help mitigate council tax, he said."Consequently, we must protect that income stream," Councillor Halse said.Car parking revenue earns the district council a whopping £2.5 million a year, but half of that goes towards providing free bus passes to local residents.Referring to the cost of the bus pass scheme, Councillor Halse said: "In the last two years we've had to tighten our belts because of it. We are not a mean, tight-fisted council."Former mayor Councillor Vernon Whitlock had raised the issue of free parking, after Honiton Town Council previously backed traders' calls for free parking on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, traditionally quieter days of the week for town centre businesses.Before the meeting, he told the Herald: "With the economic slowdown, shopkeepers and local traders are banking on increased sales in the lead up to Christmas to support them through grim economic times."Every day we are seeing on the news dramatic action taken to support economies and businesses."At a local level we also need to see action. We cannot afford to lose local shops from our East Devon high streets."Councillor Whitlock wants the district to listen to the people of East Devon and act now."This is a time when the council should be listening to a clear message and take action to support the economy of East Devon," he said.

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