COUNCILLORS are being urged to reduce parking charges in Torbay to attract more motorists, shoppers and holidaymakers.
The first phase of a major review of parking in the Bay has been unveiled after pressure from the local business community who feared parking policies were killing trade.
The review has looked at all parking locations, including town car parks, beaches and on-street parking. It suggests:
Restructuring existing charges, and reducing them in certain areas or at different times of the year.
Creating new permits to allow residents to park more cheaply after 3pm and before 10am.
Discounts for eco friendly vehicles.
Allowing all day parking in all on street pay and display areas.
Offering disabled parking permits to more motorists.
Free parking on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day both on and off street.
Hear Cllr Robert Excell speaking to Alison Hernandez on the parking charges review
Cllr, responsible for transport and who has led the review, said: "My main concern is that motorists should get the impression when they come to Torbay that the parking regime is fair."
The review follows calls from businesses last summer claiming that high parking charges were deterring shoppers in the worst retail crisis in recent history.
Cllr Excell said his key aim was to make parking 'affordable' and to reflect what people could afford in the current economic climate.
He said: "People didn't understand why we had to have such high charges.
"I believe parking charges should suit the economy that they are supporting and at the moment I don't feel they are doing that. On the flip side the highways budget has been cut, the revenue generated by parking is put back into highways and we have to have a balanced budget."
He said as part of a continued review they would be assessing whether charges needed to be reduced in on-street meter areas where spaces were not being used. They would also be looking at calls for parking to be allowed for longer periods on Paignton seafront and extending pay on exit systems to other car parks, when budgets allowed.
Hear town centre businessman John Doherty speaking to Alison Hernandez on the parking charges review.
The transport working party is being asked next week to decide on three options.
The first is to protect the council's budget by leaving charges untouched.
The second includes new monthly off street permits for all car parks at £50 and monthly permits for a specific car park for £45 for residents only, and a new monthly on street pay and display permit for £80. A permit for between 3pm and 10am for selected car parks would be £50 for residents.
The monthly permits would replace the quarterly and six monthly permits to be more affordable for customers. The permits would be introduced subject to a being able to pay without coins. The council is currently tendering for the system.
A discount of ten per cent could be offered for eco-friendly vehicles. It is suggested an annual parking permit of £20 be offered to anyone aged over 65 with a Blue Badge in receipt of certain benefits.
A third option which would cost £500,000 unless there was a 20 per cent increase in users, proposes cheaper charges still in the winter for beach and other sites, but remaining the same for town centres car parks.
In the second option town centre car park charges would be 70p for 30mins (50p in option three) £1.30 for one hour (£1 option three), £1.80 up to 1.5 hours (£1.50), £2.20 two hours (£2), and the remaining charges the same for both options £3 for three hours, £4 for four hours, £5 five hours , £8 all day, £2 overnight. Current town centre charges are 50p for 20mins, £1 for 40mins, £1.50 for 80mins, £2.20 for two hours, £3 for three hours, £4 for four hours, £5 for five hours, £8 for 24 hours, £2 overnight.
Review in detail, see next week's Herald Express.