Monday, May 28, 2012
Budleigh Salterton’s new mayor has vowed to resist any attempt by district bosses to charge motorists to use the free car park next to the Public Hall, which is the last one of its kind in the district.
Councillor Courtney Richards warned that the move could pave the way for the development of light industrial units at the adjacent paying car park next to the fire station.
He accused East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Devon County Council, which is introducing seafront parking metres, of trying to make as much money out of motorists as possible.
Since 1974 the 109-space Upper Station Road car park, maintained by the town council and leased by EDDC for £500 a year, is free.
It was originally bequeathed to Budleigh Salterton Urban District Council by Lord Clinton.
Following local government reorganisation in the 1970s the site was then passed to the newly-formed EDDC.
But despite restrictive covenants limiting the use of the land to public car parking, EDDC has been eyeing up the car park as a means of filling its coffers.
Its Off Street Car Park Review 2011 estimates that it could raise them up to £50,000 a year. Any lease to the town council could be cancelled within six months - if just £11,400 in compensation was paid.
If this happens, Councillor Richards says that the 38-space fee-paying Lower Station Road car park could then be developed, despite public rights of access in place which could restrict certain kinds of development.
He said at his mayoral acceptance speech: “…our friends at East Devon (could start) wanting to charge fees for the car park near the public hall and possibly wanting to use the car park behind the Public Hall for development (of light industrial units).
“Now some will say that no other town in East Devon has a free car park like Budleigh Salterton, and it is not fair on other towns.
“Frankly, that is of little interest to me or to this council. This town doesn’t have to be like any other town. We are unique and we are the only town in East Devon entirely within an AONB.
“Should we come out of that just to conform to East Devon’s view of fairness? Does Axminster want a beach because we have one? No.
“Budleigh Salterton is not some cloned town… and we will fight to retain that.”
An EDDC spokesman said a review of car parks was carried out and any recommendations will go to cabinet for consideration in due course and subsequently for further consultation.