'More affordable' parking on its way for Torbay
PARKING in Torbay should be run on more businesslike lines, with incentives and promotions to attract shoppers back into town, councillors have been urged.
Business people who have been campaigning for a fairer parking scheme in the Bay welcomed a recommendation to introduce a more affordable regime from April.
A major review was carried out by Torbay Council after traders said last summer that people were being driven away by charges and Draconian enforcement.
Councillors agreed to recommend Mayor Gordon Oliver to introduce some changes to the scales of parking charges, including a new monthly car park permit for all car parks at £40, and a residents' permit for free parking between 3pm and 10am for £50.
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The recommendations also include new on-street parking permits and cheaper winter parking.
Members of the transport working party also agreed to reintroduce half-hourly and hourly charges as people found the 20-minute, 40-minute, 80-minute time bands were confusing.
James Cross, chairman of Torquay Chamber of Trade, told members: "Thank you for listening. But I was disappointed that the review has just looked at cheaper charges.
"We were looking to create a win-win situation for us all, with parking working for us as a town and for you as a council, with your income going up. We would like to see it reviewed every six months.
"Let's work together and be more ambitious about where we can go with this."
Matthew Clarke, from Paignton Business Improvement District (BID), made several further suggestions including keeping Paignton Esplanade open except for the peak six summer weeks, reducing meter charges in areas such as Sands Road to £2 all day, delaying turning meters on in certain areas at 10am rather than 8am and increasing the areas where meter parking is free on Sundays.
He said the council should actively promote the residents' permit and make it easily available.
He wanted the 'no return' time limits removed from meters and motorists allowed and encouraged to feed the meters if they wanted to stay longer.
He said a designated commuters/workers level could be created in Victoria Square car park for £2 a day for permit holders.
He also called for that car park to be given priority for pay-on-exit equipment.
Arthur Christian, of Babbacombe Bay BID, said local businesses would applaud the moves to reduce charges and making charges less of a 'barrier' to visitors, commuters and shoppers.
He said: "By viewing off-road parking not primarily as a source of income but as a business proposition, it opens up significant prospects for all."
John Doherty, of the Torquay BID, said spaces in car parks needed selling and constant management.
"Nothing is sold without effort. Where is the option to pay by card, where is the option to top-up tickets, what is being done to remove the fear factor where people are intimidated and don't want the pressure of shopping in town because of the fear of an enforcement ticket?
"Where is the option for traders to contribute to customers' parking based on customer spend?"
The meeting agreed there should be quarterly meetings to review the system further.