Georgeham residents voice opposition to car park charges
RESIDENTS in Georgeham want their village car park to remain free.
Around 20 people attended the parish council meeting on Thursday night to oppose the idea of introducing charges.
It is one of a variety of options being looked at by the parish council to make up for the eventual loss of its parish grant, amounting to nearly £6,000.
The funding, which is used to maintain the car park and other open spaces in the village, is gradually being withdrawn by North Devon Council over three years.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
At the meeting parish councillors were left under no illusions about the strength of public feeling against the idea of charging.
Concerns were raised about the possible economic impact on local businesses and the potential problems caused by 'displaced parking' should the charges go ahead.
Others voiced concerns about increased congestion in the village and how it would affect safety.
Ian Kerr told the meeting: "I have talked to a lot of people in the village about this and I have yet to find one person in favour of it."
He suggested increasing the village precept, rather than charging to use the car park.
He calculated that each household would have to pay about £7.53 extra per year to make up for the loss of the grant money.
David Morton, who runs a B&B and lets out the village shop, said his guests often asked where they could park.
He also described the village car park as a wonderful asset.
He wanted to know whether any future income from charging would be ring fenced for car park maintenance or used as general revenue.
And he asked the parish council to carry out a thorough study to ensure that the wider implications, including economic impact, were considered if charging were to go ahead.
Mark Juby applauded the council for imagination but, given the weight of people's feelings, felt the idea of charging should be shelved and other alternatives looked at.
John Symonds, chairman of Georgeham Parish Council, told the meeting that the possibility of charging in the car park was one of a variety of options under consideration to raise revenue.
And he stressed that it was only an option at this stage and not a proposal.
He said the issue was about running the car park for the future and being able to maintain it.
He said: "It is a gritty old problem to come to grips with."
He also pointed out that the council could not recoup the whole of the grant from the taxpayer because it would mean increasing the precept by more than 3% which the council could not do with holding a referendum.
And the cost of the referendum would be more than the potential revenue gained.
The council agreed that all matters relating to future funding be referred to the finance sub committee and that any proposal to introduce car parking charges would first be put to a public meeting.