A CAMPAIGN is being launched by Tavistock’s business community on Monday to ‘Stop the Meters’ and keep parking free in Tavistock town centre.

The campaign is being spearheaded by town centre business organisation Tavistock BID in response to plans brewing at County Hall to start charging for the currently free one-hour parking in the town centre.

Tavistock BID manager Janna Sanders described the proposal as ‘the biggest threat to the businesses of our town since the advent of out of town shopping centres’,

‘We were horrified when we learned of these proposals,’ she said. With the cost of living rising hugely over the course of 2022, it’s completely the wrong time and the wrong approach to even be considering charging local people to start paying to use their own town centre.

‘The plan flies in the face of supporting the vitality of high streets and has added huge stresses and worries to businesses in the town at a time when their energy costs have risen massively, now they are having to worry about loss of takings too. We have created this campaign to call on Devon County Council to Stop the Meters and for common sense to prevail.’

She has been been extremely concerned since first learning of the proposals from Devon County Council ‘to start charging local people for popping into town’ in papers outling the proposals to the county council’s Cabinet back in November.

Shoppers and visitors currently benefit from an hour of free on-street parking in shopping , which Tavistock BID has described as ‘the ideal balance’.

‘It is one of the reasons that Tavistock comtinues to survive, despite the adversity we have had recently,’ said Janna. ‘We believe that on-street charges are the biggest threat to the businesses of our town since the advent of out of town shopping centres. It will further encourage people to town centres for supermarkets where they have their own free parking.’

She said that Tavistock BID is launching a campaign aimed at stopping the plan before any further public money is spent on developing it. More details about the Stop the Meters campaign will be published on Tavistock BID’s website on Monday. Tavistock county councillor Debo Sellis opposed the move by her authority back in 2010 and has been fighting it behind the scenes. She said she wanted West Devon Borough Council, Tavistock Town Council and Tavistock BID involved in any decision that County Hall took, because it would impact on them all, as the town and borough council also run car parks.

She said: ‘I feel the town and borough council and the BID should be involved. I’m trying to be a strong voice on behalf of the community and the businesses and I am not going to lie down and accept it.

‘I feel I have a responsibility as the present county councillor to be a strong voice and listen and I am listening to the businesses.’