Torbay council wants to make parking 'fairer'
The proposal from Torbay Council to put meters along a stretch of Marine Drive near Preston Beach at Paignton emerged just before Christmas.
The council says the plan will make parking fairer by increasing turnover at the roadside bays.
Protesters say the 24-hour charges would discourage local people and holidaymakers from using the beach, push cars onto neighbouring residential roads, reduce trade and hit beach hut owners who have already seen costs rise.
In a post shared on the Preston Beach Facebook page, Jennie Davies said she had collected more than 500 signed objection letters as part of a campaign supported by local businesses.
Meanwhile by Wednesday lunchtime more than 1,700 people had signed an online petition opposing the meters.
The petition on the change.org website started by Faith Bonnet says the meters would cause “massive problems” for local residents.
A statement says the meters would lead to “no end of congestion, noise and increased traffic pollution” in nearby residential streets.
Preston councillor Chris Lewis is objecting to the plan and wants it put on hold for a full review of parking meters across Torbay.
He questioned why the road had been singled out for the meters plan without considering other areas.
Cllr Lewis said: “When Marine Drive came up before, we said no because it is a locals’ beach.
“If you are going to put additional parking meters in Torbay, let’s have an exploratory review into where they should go.”
He said the plan for Marine Drive was uneconomic and neighbouring roads would become congested as visitors sought to avoid paying.
The meters would cost from 60p for an hour up to £10 for all-day, with a charge of £3.50 overnight (6pm to 8am).
The beach has scores of huts during the summer and is popular with dog walkers outside the May to September beach dog ban.
Torbay Council is having to find millions of pounds of cuts and extra income to balance the books after continued funding cuts.
A plan to increase income from parking meters was included in the elected mayor’s draft budget for the next financial year from April.
The proposed order setting out the addition of parking meters says: “Marine Drive is a seafront amenity area and the introduction of pay and display will help to ensure a fair turnover of bays and all users of the area are given the opportunity to park as at the present time this is may not occur.”
Marine Drive was included in a report around a decade ago when council officers put forward a series of suggested sites for parking meters, but it was rejected along with others.
Parking is currently free on Marine Drive, which is separated from the promenade and beach by Preston Green. There is a restriction to prevent overnight parking.
The consultation period for the parking meters proposal ends today at 5pm (Friday 4th January)
The proposed meter charges are: up to 30 minutes 60p; up to 1 hour £1.40; up to 1.5 hours £2.40; up to 2 hours £3; up to 3 hours £4; up to 4 hours £5; up to 5 hours £6; up to 6 hours £7; all day £10; overnight (6pm to 8am) £3.50.