A CAMPAIGN petition to prevent on-street parking charges in Tavistock has nearly reached 2,500 signatures of support.

The petition was raised by traders who fear the suggested move by Devon County Council. The controversial restrictions are also opposed in Okehampton on the grounds of the potential for deterring shoppers.

The petition was organised by Tavistock Business Improvement District (BID) and has been backed by numerous organisations and individuals. 

Some funds have also been raised in support of the campaign’s communication costs. Tavistock Town Council has formally opposed charging, as have other nearby parish councils.

The Stop the Meters campaign was begun in late January and has gathered momentum since.

Traders claim shoppers would take their trade to competitor towns or supermarkets, rather than pay for parking and this was not sustainable during a period of high inflation when everyone had less money to spend and were looking to make cutbacks.

No detailed proposals have been outlined or received by the town or county councillors.

It is believed the idea is to improve turn-over of parking, which at present allows one hour free parking before drivers are subject to being charged by traffic wardens.  

There are unlikely to be actual meters installed on the town centre streets, with online payments for a half an hour believed to be in the pipeline if the scheme is approved.

The county council is accused of using the motorist as a ‘cash cow’, but this is denied by officers.

It is believed proceeds from any parking charges will help support under-used already subsidised bus services, which are not paid for locally.

Debo Sallis, Devon county councillor for Tavistock, has also said she does not support charging for on-street parking because it could deter shoppers.

She is keen on the county consulting on all views before any final decision was made on whether to adopt charges, this includes the town and West Devon councils, and residents.

The best way forward was to jointly draw up a wider parking and traffic management plan. This plan would include resident permits and car parks. 

Residents were likely to press for personal parking permits on their own streets if parking charges were implemented there or if drivers seeking free parking were displaced to residential areas.

For more information on the Stop The Meters campaign contact Tavistock BID at [email protected] or visit www.tavistockbid.co.uk/stop-the-meters

Shoppers in Okehampton echo the same fears as in Tavistock saying they sometimes come into both towns on a whim to browse if they have limited time and that 30 minutes is not enough to do so. Or they park on the roads for a free one hour if they need to pick something up and use the rest of the free hour to visit a few shops.

There is also concern that drivers parking in the remaining restriction-free streets will be competing with workers parking all day — adding to congestion on town centre  fringes.