Free park­ing would cre­ate £100k fi­nan­cial ‘black cloud’

Herald Express - - News - BY DANIEL CLARK

IN­TRO­DUC­ING free park­ing on Satur­day af­ter­noon to New­ton Ab­bot could cast a “£100,000 black cloud” over Teign­bridge Dis­trict Coun­cil’s fi­nances.

At a re­cent full coun­cil meet­ing, Cllr Gor­don Hook, leader of the Lib­eral Demo­crat Group, called for the free park­ing to be ex­tended to Satur­day after­noons to help boost trade in the town, say­ing that the town is “cur­rently de­serted on a Satur­day af­ter­noon”.

But Cllr Jeremy Christoph- ers, the Con­ser­va­tive leader of the coun­cil, said that hav­ing asked of­fi­cers to run the fi­nances of the pro­posal, it could end up cost­ing the coun­cil nearly £100,000 – £30,000 more than the sur­plus the coun­cil re­ceived over the sum­mer against its pre­dicted in­come.

Cllr Christo­phers said: “Car park­ing rev­enue has en­joyed a bumper year be­cause the sun was shin­ing, show­ing a sur­plus of £70,000, with in­come which has been gen­er­ated in the coastal re­sorts of Dawlish and Teign­mouth. “But Cllr Hook, who de­scribed New­ton Ab­bot as a ‘ghost town’, would gam­ble on the sun shin­ing ev­ery year, to give New­ton Ab­bot a leg-up at the ex­pense of ev­ery other town in dis­trict.

“The park­ing ser­vice depart­ment es­ti­mate costs of im­ple­men­ta­tion in New­ton Ab­bot alone to be £94,000. If he wants to roll out free park­ing on Satur­day across the dis­trict, then how much would that cost and how would it be funded? It is reck­less to prom­ise based on the sun shin­ing. We make de­ci­sions based on ev­i­dence.”

Fig­ures shown to the Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­port­ing Ser­vice re­veal that £60,405.20 was the in­come from car park­ing tick­ets in New­ton Ab­bot af­ter 2pm on Satur­day’s in 2017-18. A fur­ther £18,511.50 was spent on all-day tick­ets, while it would cost £456 to re­con­fig­ure the ma­chines to cope with the tar­iff changes and it would cost £15,000 to re-ad­ver­tise any changes un­der an Off Street Park­ing Places Or­der.

Cllr Christo­phers added: “If we grant this con­ces­sion we may then have to also con­sider re­quests for the same conces- sion from other towns and parishes through­out the dis­trict.

“Teign­bridge pro­vides some of the best value park­ing any­where in the West­coun­try. Where New­ton Ab­bot is con­cerned, it is pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors and res­i­dents in neigh­bour­ing ar­eas such as Paignton and Torquay. We are con­tin­u­ing our in­vest­ment in New­ton Ab­bot’s trans­for­ma­tion and this is at­tract­ing in­creased num­bers of cus­tomers. They don’t need cheap gimmicks to bring them to the town, as they are com­ing be­cause in­creas­ingly it is prov­ing to be a great place to be.”

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