Anger over parking charges

Exeter City council took more from their ticket machines than council tax Photo: PA

At Haven Banks in Exeter the city council owned car park was full today. At £1.60 a day perhaps that's no surprise. But not for long. The council wants to put the price up here and elsewhere by almost 400%. Motorists today were staggered.

One told us: "Well, that is ridiculous, I think it should be in line with inflation if it's going to be five or ten per cent max but that's ridiculous." Another said, "One still pays it I suppose, you keep your journeys down don't you."

The city council says it's trying to simplify its pricing and here at The Triangle a four hour stay will infact be cheaper. But Exeter makes more money from car parking than it does from its share of the council tax.

At more than 3.1 million pounds the amount raised by parking charges here is the largest for an individual location within the region, that not only includes the city council's own car parks but it also includes Devon County Council's on street parking. Nevertheless that's still a huge amount of money to be spent on parking within a city the size of Exeter.

According to local government statistics Cornwall topped the Westcountry league table, raising six million pounds in 2010/11 from parking charges. This last financial year Torbay was just behind Exeter on two point nine million, Taunton Deane two point three million, North Devon one and a half million, but Plymouth only raised four hundred and fifty one thousand pounds.

Back in Exeter and at Terry's cafe the closest car park will see a steep price rise, plenty for customers to chew over. Staff think people will still come in, but leave the car out of town.

"I think they'll think that at the end of the day it's already expensive and a lot of people will try to find other transport to get into Exeter if needs be."

In Bideford, the Chamber of Commerce asked its council for two hours free parking for shoppers to boost trade, but that was turned down.

They told us: "The perception from traders is that the cost of parking is hurting their trade, the perception from the public is that its too expensive to park here for what they get. If they compare parking in Bideford as a small market town to our neighbour Barnstaple where prices are similar for parking you get a lot more for your money there."

Torridge, like all councils, has seen its budgets cut and parking is a way of making up the shortfall.