Here is her speech to Cabinet which led to reconsideration of an increase in car parking charges.
“My comments echo those made earlier by Richard Eley, on behalf of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.
I would ask you to reconsider the proposal to standardise car park fees. Evidence in my Ward suggests that a one size fits all policy will not help small businesses to survive, let alone thrive.
Sidford is a clear example. We have already lost many shops over the years. Everyone knows that retail is suffering due to competition from online shopping from the likes of Amazon which makes huge profits but contributes little to the UK economy.
Business rates weigh heavily on SMEs, which pay a disproportionate rate by comparison with large business.
Add to this the increase in the minimum wage, high levels of VAT and general running costs.
And then the local council decides to hike up the cost of parking to your customers by a whopping 150%. Taking Sidford Spar as an example, why would anyone pay a 50p premium for half an hour to buy a loaf of bread or pint of milk when they can drive to Temple Street and park for nothing or onto Waitrose and park for nothing, or even Newton Poppleford and park for nothing?
The Operations Director of Spar told me they “lost significant customer flow when the Doctor’s surgery relocated and now these increases will only hit our business even more.”
The owner of Lexys, the hairdressers, said, “I am not happy at all with the charges proposed. If I were to raise my charges by 150%, I wouldn’t stay in business.”
Cllr Pook stated “the Council has listened carefully to what has been said during the public consultation and the cabinet report recommendations reflect the views of the respondents”.
This is not the case with regard to Sidford, where 64% agreed with the proposal to introduce free parking for the first two hours. Nor does it reflect the views of business owners.
Looking at the current revenue generated, this car park contributes only 0.32% towards annual revenue at £10,676 for 2016/17. There are 60 spaces which generate only £29 a day for the whole car park (so less than 50p per space per day). Raising the parking fees by 150% would only equate to £43.50 per day, which is still miniscule. And apparently the amount for 2017/18 was even less, £10,535, so still less than 50p per space per day).
In summary, a dramatic increase in car park charges could hasten the closure of more local businesses through lack of custom. Precisely how much do the Sidford companies pay in business rates? Could it be more than £29 per day? I would suggest that this information be made available, so that it can be reviewed by Cabinet.”
Speeches by councillors for Lympestone and Phear Park led to reconsideration of their charges as reported here: