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Questions raised over Dartmouth park and ride permits

A MASSIVE hike in the price of a resident’s park and ride parking permit is doing nothing to ease Dartmouth’s overcrowded car parks, it has been claimed.
South Hams Council has increased the price of its out of hours car parking and bus ride permit from just £21 a year to £100.
But district and county councilor Jonathan Hawkins believes it is making people from the outlying villages think twice about using the service that is supposed to free up Mayor’s Avenue car park and bring people into the market town.
He believes there was not adequate consultation on the permit price rise and is asking if the decision can still be called in.
‘I don’t believe that it was advertised or that consultation took place properly with all the neighbouring parishes affected,’ he said.
He said, along with Salcombe, Dartmouth had the highest car parking charges in the South Hams and spaces were at a premium.
‘When we are trying to boost the economy of the district’s market towns, I am not sure that increasing the resident’s park and ride parking permit to £100 is the right way forward,’ he said. ‘We are subsidising Ivybridge and Totnes.
‘We introduced this a number of years ago and it was particularly important for Dart­mouth as we have so few spaces in town.
‘It enabled our neighbouring parishes to use their market town and help promote local business.
‘I am still very concerned and I would like to know if it is too late to call this in as I feel the consultation was very, very poor.’
South Hams Council voted last December to increase the price of the permit after hearing there had been some abuse of the system.
The council’s executive committee was told that some residents were ‘borrowing’ other people’s permits so they could get up and down the town for free on the park and ride bus.
The permit system in the South Hams allows car owners to park in car parks for limited hours at the beginning and end of the day and was introduced a few years ago.
At the beginning of 2012, it was extended to cover the park and ride so that people who bought the £21 parking permit would be able to use Dartmouth’s park and ride car park and the buses to get into the town centre.
However, Cllr Hawk­ins said he was pleased that South Hams Council had agreed in future to email all parish and town councils with any changes to parking orders.
‘I also believe stakeholders, such as chambers of trade and business improvement districts, should be included, he said.

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