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Major backlash to Bridport parking meter plan
DORSET County Council’s proposal to introduce on-street parking charges has stirred up a hornets’ nest of opposition in Bridport.
Now former mayor of Bridport Coun Dave Rickard is calling on the county council to work with the town council and businesses to improve the town in the way locals want – not by introducing an unpopular parking scheme.
Coun Rickard said: “The proposed charges are much more to do with the county council scratching around to fill holes in their budget than ‘promoting economic growth’ or ‘making the streets safer and less polluted and increasing traffic flow’.
“The arguments given so far are muddled, contradictory and counter intuitive, and the evidence for ‘success elsewhere’ is notable by its absence.”
Coun Rickard said the authority had had years to address the real problem of providing suitable and adequate parking and had failed.
He added: “We need more parking capacity and sustainable local transport to link people to the town.
“The district council has also included building on the Rope Walks car park in their new strategic plan against all local representation and logic.
“What makes their meddling interference more galling is that, yet again, we have to pick up the bill. “They really do not understand democracy.
“As we are the ratepayers and the taxpayers, it is us who employ them.
“They have a legal and a moral obligation to respond to our needs, not the other way round.
“If they want to help us improve our economic growth then they need to work with the town council and the businesses, to develop and improve Bridport the way we want and not how they think we ought to conform to their outdated model of a clone town.”
The Bridport Business Chamber has already condemned the scheme to charge motorists and is sending its written representations.
There has also been a groundswell of opposition from residents.
Nick Jones lives between Dorchester and Bridport and shopped in both towns until meters were installed in the county town.
He said: “Since then we have not paid to park in the town and the shops have lost our business. Similar losses will occur to the shops of Bridport.”
Andy Barnard from Watton said the inference from the county council was that motorists currently clog up the streets by parking all day.
He said: “How can they when there is a one hour limit throughout the town? At present folk have a choice, use the free spaces, if available, for up to an hour or pay to park in the car parks – fair enough I say, leave well alone. “
Trevor Chambers from Morcombelake said it was insulting of the county council to think it could fool the public by claiming the scheme would ‘promote economic growth’ and ‘make these town centres safer, more attractive and generally nicer to visit’.
Dorset County Council chief engineer Tim Norman said the project was not set in stone and the council was in the early stages of consultation.
He added: “All feedback will be taken on board before any decisions are made.
“We are pleased that the proposals have generated debate and all comments will be considered before we take the proposals any further.”