By Local Democracy Reporter Trevor Bevins
CONTROVERSIAL changes to parking could bring in an extra £800,000 for Dorset Council.
There have been complaints about the lack of consultation over the issue and claims that new evening and Sunday charges could hit the area’s struggling economy.
Dorset Council has said it had no need to consult as the matter was ‘operational’, with the decision being rubber stamped by highways portfolio holder Cllr Ray Bryan.
A report to councillors next week now quantifies for the first time the expected additional income the council hopes to see.
It says that extending the hours of charging from 6pm to 8pm will bring in a maximum of £330,200 after costs; that charging for Sunday parking will add another £96,000; and doubling the all-day fee at Lyme Regis and West Bay car parks from £2 to £4 will bring in an extra £362,600.
Not all car parks in the Dorset area are affected by the changes in the same way. Some places, such as Weymouth, already charge for Sunday parking, although the extending of parking times from 6pm to 8pm will have an effect in the resort.
In Lyme Regis, the changes will affect Charmouth Road and Holmbush car parks, where the all-day fee will be doubled.
Although the council originally said that the changes did not need to be approved by councillors, it says it will now bring the changes to the December Cabinet meeting with the recommendation that they are implemented ‘without delay.’
A report by strategic parking projects officer Elizabeth Murray says some of the charges have not risen since 2004 and no longer meet the current costs.
The report says that a notification letter of the changes was sent to 215 town and parish councils after the decision was made – with 15 responding.
Elsewhere the council collected 47 comments on its news website; 186 via its Facebook; 151 via the Dorset Echo website and eight direct emails.
Of those unhappy with the decision, the biggest number complained about the negative impact on local businesses (35%) with 8% worried about people trying to park in residential streets to avoid the charges; 7% about the negative impact on evening businesses; 5% concerned about the negative impact on residents and 4% unhappy about the lack of consultation.
Said the council report: “Due to the comments being from 0.13% of the population, it cannot be used to reflect the views of all of Dorset Council residents.”
The report also claims that around 5% of all public comments were positive about the changes.