CAMPAIGNERS against introducing on-street parking charges to Tavistock town centre have claimed early successes.
Traders say their survey shows shoppers would boycott the town rather than pay for parking.
Devon County Council has agreed to consider introducing parking charges, sparking huge opposition among traders and shoppers who fear it will harm trade with customers choosing to go to rival towns or supermarkets to avoid paying.Traders say their survey backs their fears, which found that 88 per cent of shoppers say they will either avoid the town completely or reduce the amount of time they visit. The Tavistock Business Improvement District (BID) group of traders, also claims Devon County Council has finally conceded that it will need to produce its own evidence to before giving it the green light.
Janna Sanders, of Tavistock BID, said: ‘The data we have been collecting suggests that we would experience a catastrophic drop in footfall should people be asked to pay for on-street parking. This supports our argument that these charges are the biggest threat to this town in many years and, in the current climate, could have a major impact on how the town centre looks moving forward.’
BID says the current one-hour free on-street parking, works ‘incredibly well’, allowing enough time for people to visit, while ensuring a regular rotation of spaces throughout the day and that ‘easy, accessible parking was key to the survival of the high street’.
She also claims the county council has admitted for the first time it cannot legitimately introduce charging without firm data to prove any benefit to the town: ‘The county council’s resolution, passed back in November 2022, to consider the implementation of a pay and display scheme was made without any analysis of any kind and, as a result of our continued pressure for engagement and supporting data, the council has acknowledged that a full impact study will need to be done prior to any consultation on the proposals.
‘Our campaign has highlighted the serious lack of scrutiny by Devon County Council on this issue that is fundamentally critical to the future of our high street.’
BID acknowledged the support of Tavistock Town Council and West Devon Borough Council had proved crucial to the claimed breakthrough success. Janna also thanked county councillor Debo Sellis for her committed support.
Devon County Council said parking charges (including a free period) would encourage free movement of traffic and turnover of on-street parking to benefit businesses, enable enforcement to be undertaken efficiently and encourage longer-term visitors to use off street car parks.
It is also claimed to be an environmentally friendly move which would encourage those working in the town to make more sustainable travel choices such as car-sharing, use of public transport, walking and cycling.
A Devon and Cornwall spokesperson said: ‘We are currently in discussion on how we progress with the cabinet resolution of the ninth of November last year.
‘We will be contacting affected members and making arrangements for consultation with communities as soon as we have a proposal on the way forward.
‘Pay and display is used widely across the UK and Devon. We believe that pay and display is one of the components that is needed to ensure a healthy high street and community.
‘It also encourages turnover, reduces congestion, and may encourage some to walk and cycle more.‘
BID is asking people to sign its petition to keep on-street parking free and protect Tavistock town centre at: https://www.tavistockbid.co.uk/stop-the-meters-campaign
BID is also asking people to consider donating to its Crowdfunder to support the campaign and enable it to ensure the voice of the town is heard: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/stop-the-meters-tavistock