DORSET Council is set to further increase its car parking charges in Lyme Regis to £10 a day next year.
The council caused outrage earlier this year when it quadrupled its all-day charges from £2 to £8 in its Lyme Regis car parks, including Charmouth Road and Holmbush in Sidmouth Road.
As it continues its parking review, with the aim of standardising car parking prices across the county, it is now proposing to further increase the all-day charges to £10.
The proposal for a three-tier pricing structure for car parks is said to “differentiate between the diverse and unique areas that Dorset enjoys – rural, coastal and town – and the seasonal nature of car parks at popular visitor destinations”.
It aims to bring consistency to charging across Dorset Council car parks – where charges currently span from free to £9 all day.
Level one pricing, in smaller more rural car parks, is proposed to start at 50p for 30 minutes and rise incrementally to £4 for all day.
Level two pricing, in market towns and shopping destination car parks, is proposed to start at 50p for 30 minutes and will have slightly higher incremental rises up to £6 for all day.
Level three pricing, in visitor destination car parks, is proposed to have the same pricing as level two car parks in the low season. In the high season (April 1 to October 31, prices are proposed to start at £1 for 30 minutes and rise incrementally up to £10 for all day.
As a tourist destination, Lyme Regis would be placed in the level three pricing tier.
The proposal also includes a single car park permit for drivers living and working in Dorset. This would replace the 76 different permits currently available across the county, covering the old district and borough local authority areas.
The annual residents, workers and business car park permit would allow drivers to park in specified Dorset Council car parks throughout the year, and the price for this has yet to be set.
Concerns over on-street parking
There are concerns that a further hike in car parking charges will encourage more visitors to park on residential roads, which is already proving to be an issue during busy periods in Lyme Regis.
One resident recently contacted the town council about the possibility of having double yellow lines at the top of Sidmouth Road due to parking issues during the busy season.
The complainant said that parking during the recent May Bank Holiday had caused mothers with prams to walk in the road.
Matt Daly of The Woodroffe School has also requested double yellow lines on areas of Uplyme Road where, during drop-off/pick-up times, parked cars narrow the carriageway and cause unnecessary hold-ups outside the school.
Speaking at this month’s Town Management Committee meeting, the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Brian Larcombe MBE, said he had recently received a complaint from a resident of Springhill Gardens, off Haye Lane, about hazardous parking from Horn Bridge upwards which he said was “getting progressively worse”.
Cllr Michaela Ellis commented: “Wherever we talk about, there is going to be a problem with parking in this town. Nobody is able to go abroad this year and they are all coming to the seaside, and we are going to have issues everywhere. Every resident will be complaining that their street is being parked on by visitors.
“The car parks are full, we have no park and ride due to the COVID restrictions except during the mains weeks of summer. I think this is something we are going to have to live with this year. I can’t see any way out of it.
“If we start putting yellow lines everywhere, the residents will complain that they themselves can’t park.”
Radical solutions needed
Cllr Belinda Bawden said the council needed to consider more radical solutions to solve the town’s parking issues.
“I think the reality is that we have to live with it this year, but I don’t think we should just accept that we can’t do anything. I think we should talk to Dorset Council and try and get something much, much more radical sorted out.
“The problem is only going to get worse so I think we should look at quite radical solutions, like stopping traffic coming into the centre of town except for blue badge holders and residents; convert the two bottom car parks to blue badge holder only and shoppers for residents with permits.
“I don’t think we should just say nothing can be done because it’s absolute murder; it’s horrible for the residents and it’s ridiculous not to do anything about it.”
The town council agreed to discuss parking problems across the town in full at a future meeting, and to invite a representative from Dorset Council to join the discussion.
Meanwhile, Dorset Council has launched surveys on its proposed increase in car park charges and residents’ and workers’ permit.
Town and parish councillors, and community representatives participating in stakeholder groups, are being asked to comment on the proposed tiered car park pricing structure, while the permit survey is open to everyone to ensure plans take into account the views of Dorset’s motorists, as well as specific, local knowledge on parking.
The permit survey can be found at the survey at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/parking-permit-survey
Comments on the proposals will be reviewed and incorporated into the plans, where appropriate.
It is hoped the final proposals will be presented to the Dorset Council Place and Resources Overview Committee in October and to Cabinet in November, with a view to introduce new parking charges in January 2022.
‘Trying to get the right balance’
Cllr Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “We want a pricing strategy that works for as many people as possible and brings consistency in parking charges across the Dorset Council area.
“We also want to mitigate the impact of any price changes on Dorset’s residents, workers, and shoppers by offering discounted parking through a new permit.
“We’ve worked extremely hard on benchmarking our prices and checking the cost of parking when compared to our neighbours and similar locations.
“We’re trying to get the right balance so that costs are not so high that our car parks are under-used and people are pushed into parking on residential roads, but not so low that drivers cannot find a space to park or choose to drive rather than using a more sustainable form of travel.
“We also want our peak season charges to be aimed at visitors by making them comparable to prices at similar destinations in the south. Our proposed Dorset parking permit will protect our residents and workers from paying these higher prices.
“We’ll be gathering comments from residents, stakeholder groups, parish and town councillors and Dorset Council members, so please take the time to complete the permit survey and/or speak with your local town, parish or Dorset councillor to find out more about this work developing the new parking charges.”
Anyone wishing to provide feedback on the proposed parking permit should complete the survey at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/parking-permit-survey or speak to their local town or parish council.