Devon businesses say new on-street parking charges would 'kill' their town

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Business owners in Devon say plans to introduce on-street parking charges could drive customers away and cause further misery for struggling town centres.

The county council wants to bring 'pay and display' meters to eight towns, claiming the move would boost the local economy.

Fergus Biram, who runs a shop in Tavistock, said: "It's definitely going to affect footfall in town. People can just swing in, park up, grab the stuff that they want, jump in the car, and leave.

"This whole thing of 'Oh we've now got to get a parking ticket or 'Oh, no, we haven't got change or we've got to use our smartphones.' It's just going to push people to chains where they can park for free for a couple of hours, get all their stuff, and then leave again.

"It's not a great time economically. So businesses are struggling. This is just going to kill the town."

Devon County Council is consulting on changes to parking rules in eight towns. Credit: ITV News

Currently, in places including Tavistock and Okehampton, drivers get an hour for free.

Devon County Council wants to keep that free hour and allow motorists a second hour using pay and display.

Janna Sanders, manager of Tavistock BID (Business Improvement District) said: "We understand that the council needs to make money, but this is not the way to go about it.

"You're going to harm a really vibrant town centre with this proposal."An online public consultation runs until the end of the first week of January.

A Devon County Council spokesperson said: "These proposals aim to bring Braunton, Crediton, Dartmouth, Honiton, Okehampton, Salcombe, Sidmouth and Tavistock into line with Devon’s other larger communities.

“Pay and display parking is widely used, both across Devon and nationally, with well-established schemes in communities such as Bideford, Newton Abbot, Totnes and Exeter.

"It encourages the turn-over of vehicles and availability of parking spaces, particularly in busy town centres, thereby helping to support the local economy and the use of local shops and businesses.

“These proposals will mean that parking for one hour will be free to park as long as the motorist displays a parking ticket, available from the pay and display machine, which will be available at no charge.

“If a motorist wishes to stay up to two hours, then they will need to make this option when visiting the machine.”