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