DEVON County Council’s plans for charging for parking on Crediton High Street were not favourably received at a meeting of the Crediton Town Council Planning and Town Strategy committee on Tuesday, July 4.
The plans, Councillor Jim Cairney said, would be, “like assassination, it would kill the town”.
He continued: “It would be an assassination of the businesses, they will struggle even more if this goes ahead.
“They have had to deal with the cost of living and we are returning to being a vibrant town.
“Parking meters will see the town die because it will have no shops.”
The Mayor of Crediton, Cllr Liz Brookes-Hocking, chair of the committee, said that she understood that Devon County Council wanted to introduce parking meters in eight small Market towns, including Crediton.
She said: “I understand that the plan for on-street parking meters has been through DCC Cabinet, information on this going through Cabinet in November.
“We discussed this at a DALC (Devon Association of Local Councils) meeting last week and it was felt by DALC that DCC had fallen down on it.
“There is no detail on the proposal but I believe Honiton and Crediton have been offered dates for consultation.
“I think that will be useful, it will be useful to know.”
Cllr Natalia Letch said that she believed it would cost a lot of money to install the parking meters and would require many enforcement officers to police it but she believed it was not about income, it was more likely it was because people were parking on streets for a long time and that the meters will mean people will shop and go, which would be better for shops.
The chairman said that she believed that this was DCC’s rationale.
Cllr Cairney continued by saying that he expected the meters to be connected to apps, meaning no coins, which would “be a disaster for people of a certain age”.
Cllr Guy Cochran said that he was chairman of the Mid Devon District Council parking working group and was aware of the parking meters plan.
He commented: “These things are likely to come in, but we need to say that we have some free time, Topsham for example has negotiated the first half-hour free which is good for motorists.
“We need to negotiate something like that as they are likely to come in.”
Cllr Stephen Huxtable said: “I can understand my colleagues feelings but I can’t make a decision until I have more information.
“I want information as to how this plan reached its conclusion.”
The council agreed to ask Devon County Council for further information on the proposal.
COUNTY COUNCILLOR REVEALS FURTHER DETAIL
The previous evening (Monday, July 3), in his report to Crediton Hamlets Parish Council’s July meeting held in the Community Hall at Yeoford, Devon County Council member for the area, Cllr Frank Letch, reported on the county council’s plans for charging for parking on the High Street.
He explained that the proposal was for 50p for half-an-hour and 50p for an extra hour, effectively £1 for one-and-a-half hours, if more was needed, people could use the town’s car parks.
He said there was going to be a meeting with Devon County Council Parking, Crediton Town Council and Crediton Chamber of Commerce, adding “if you were to make it a public meeting you would not have a hall big enough”.
“The idea is to get traffic moving, there will be 45 enforcement officers”, he said the theory was that it would be easier to check how long vehicles were parked.
District Councillor Martin Binks commented that people living along some residential roads could find more people parking there.
Cllr Letch commented that a lot of the income from parking went on supporting buses, he said that 11 out of 12 buses that go through Crediton were subsidised.
He also said that Mid Devon District Council was planning to put electric car charging points in both St Saviour’s Way (High Street) and the Market Street car parks in Crediton and that it now had 70 electric vans.
TAVISTOCK STOP THE METERS CAMPAIGN
Tavistock town centre campaign to Stop the Meters this week increased momentum ahead of a planned consultation with officers from Devon County Council later this month.
As part of further data gathering by the organisation leading the opposition, Tavistock BID, a survey was carried out to monitor how visitors currently use parking in the town centre.
Volunteers monitored how long cars were parked on a stretch of Duke Street, where existing parking slots allow one hour’s free parking before traffic enforcement officers book drivers for outstaying their welcome.
The survey also took note of how quickly spaces were filled after being vacated.
Tavistock BID is supported in the campaign by the town council and councillors from West Devon Borough Council and the partnership has formally opposed the suggestion by Devon County Council that Okehampton and Tavistock be brought into line with other towns by introducing parking charges in several streets in the town centre.
Despite ongoing requests for sight of proposals for Tavistock and for a full impact study, initial plans for Tavistock have yet to be shared with Tavistock BID and partners but it is believed that proposals include 30-minutes free-of-charge (halving the current offering) after which drivers will need to pay. All visitors would require a ticket, irrespective of length of stay, from machines sited in the town centre.
This has sparked a lot of criticism from shoppers and businesses who say the move would fundamentally change how they use the town centre.
In Tavistock an online petition has attracted more than 2,300 opponents and a questionnaire of shoppers has already demonstrated overwhelmingly that shoppers are much more likely to boycott Tavistock if they are not allowed their one-hour free parking.
Janna Sanders of Tavistock BID, recently told the “Tavistock Times”: “The data we have been collecting suggests that we would experience a major drop in footfall should people be asked to pay for on-street parking. Usage of the current on-street parking provision is still being monitored but early data also supports our argument that charging for parking in Tavistock is not appropriate here.
“We will continue to defend the one-hour free on-street parking, a status quo which works incredibly well for our town, allowing enough time for people to conduct their business while ensuring a regular rotation of spaces throughout the day. Easy, accessible parking is key to the survival of the high street.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
In Crediton there has been little action taken to stop the meters plan coming to the town.
• What do you think about the plan?
Why not share your views with fellow “Crediton Courier” readers? Write a letter, with your name and address, and send it to: The Editor, Crediton Courier, 102 High Street, Crediton EX17 3LF.