DORSET Council has agreed to quadruple all-day car parking charges in Lyme Regis, but has scrapped plans to extend evening charges until 8pm.
Notice of changes to car parking charges across the county was first provided to town and parish councils in mid-October but many residents and businesses expressed concerns, especially considering the current financial pressures faced by businesses and the further impact charging until 8pm could have.
Dorset councillors also raised objections to the changes being put forward without any consultation. Dorset Council 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.
However, the recommendations were discussed at the Place and Resources Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, December 1 with feedback then passed on to Cllr Bryan, who has now made some changes to his recommendations.
The recommendations now agreed are as follows:
- Increase the all-day charge from £2 to £8 in Lyme Regis and West Bay – an increase on the original recommendation to increase the charge to £4. This will be a ‘graduated charge’, like that currently in place in Weymouth.
- Implementation of Sunday charging – this recommendation stays as before, but town and parish councils can ask for free days for special events.
- Extend morning charges in Purbeck to begin at 8am – this stays as was recommended.
- The original recommendation to extend evening charges to 8pm has been withdrawn.
- Special arrangements for workers who require all-day parking in West Bay and Lyme Regis will be considered in due course, as will local arrangements for Sunday markets and car boot sales.
The changes will come into effect on February 1. Dorset Council-owned car parks in Lyme Regis which will be affected by the changes include Holmbush, Charmouth Road, Cobb Gate and Broad Street (Van Allens) car parks. Woodmead Halls and Monmouth Beach car parks remain unaffected as they are owned by Lyme Regis Town Council.
Cllr Bryan commented: “The increase in all-day car parking charges at West Bay and Lyme Regis has been made to bring these in line with other tourist destinations in the area.
“The pricing scale will now be graduated, which means the cost-per-hour increases the longer you park there. So while all-day parking will indeed cost £8, visitors who only stay for a couple of hours will be charged far less. For example, two hours of parking in Weymouth’s Pavilion car-park is around £2, but all-day costs £8 during the summer.
“As I stated in Cabinet we will be discussing special arrangements, as well as shoppers and residents permits, in the new year and will work closely with town councils on how these are implemented.
“In the meantime, long stay parking permits are currently available for West Bay and Lyme Regis from £19.17 a month (purchased annually for £230 or 6 months for £120).”
Cllr Bryan also announced that current free parking arrangements for NHS and care workers will remain in place until midnight on Thursday, December 31.
Originally run for a limited time earlier this year but reinstated during the most recent lockdown period, Dorset Council is offering continued free parking for NHS and care workers throughout December 2020.
Provided they are on duty and displaying a relevant permit, or they have registered with Dorset Council, NHS staff and care workers can continue to use any Dorset Council-operated off-street car park free of charge until the end of the year.
Cllr Bryan, portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “We have listened to the concerns around the changes to car parking arrangements and amended our recommendations accordingly.
“I feel that the new changes strike a balance between supporting our town centres and high streets, as well as ensuring charging is fair and can sustain our car parks across the county.
“I’d like to thank the many councillors and officers who have provided feedback and worked hard to get this result, which I am very pleased with.
“I’m also pleased to be able to support our colleagues in the NHS and care sectors by extending our free parking offer throughout December. Despite the recent lockdown period ending, these workers will continue to provide a vital service to some of our most vulnerable and isolated residents over the festive period.
“It makes sense to keep this scheme running for a few more weeks and also ensure no-one is caught out when the offer ends from New Year’s Day.
“I’d also like to remind everyone that there is free Christmas parking for shoppers both this Saturday and next (December 12 and 19) in Dorset Council car parks. Visitors should check signage in car parks and on our website for details.”