West Dorset traders say they have felt the impact of 'hefty' summer parking charges as new winter prices kick in.

A cafe owner says he has resorted to offering customers compensation for the parking charges and that footfall across the three west Dorset sites he operates has been lower compared to last year.

Another trader says customers have been complaining 'vociferously' about the prices. 

New parking tariffs were introduced in April of this year with the most expensive car parks rising from £8 to £15 over summer for 10 hours. 

As of November 1, Dorset Council’s car parking tariffs have dropped to cheaper winter rates, although the high charges over summer have left some West Bay traders worried.

READ: Council car parks in Bridport to change to winter rates

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Baboo Gelato's West Bay kiosk will be closing earlier as a result of the incident Picture: Baboo Gelato

Under the winter parking charges, prices for a 10 hour stay have now dropped from £15 to £9 in the priciest car parks such as East Beach, Station Yard and The Mound car parks, with an hour dropping from £3 to £1.50.

Sam Hanbury, owner of ice-cream firm Baboo Gelato, which has a kiosk in the resort, says customers have complained about the hike in prices, and wonders what impact it will have in the future.

He said: “Our customer base complains vociferously about it. It needs to be proportionate, £15 is a stupidly high number, it has a definitely had an impact on us.

“I think what the council is missing is it will be worse next year than this year. When people from Birmingham say, wait a minute, Dorset is expensive, we won’t go there again."

READ: Traders say parking charges are doing harm, despite council findings

Mr Hanbury also pointed out how the charges, despite being aimed at tourists visiting the seaside resort, have a knock-on impact on locals.

He added: “It has a ripple effect on the residents too, with people trying to park on private drives or side streets where residents would normally park.

“While I respect the council need to generate income, they are raising a lot of revenue from West Bay and are under investing in West Bay - it is a short-term plan and not a long term one.”


Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Another seafront business in the resort has taken measures into its own hands, compensating their customers for two hours parking with a parking receipt.

Steve Attrill, owner of The Watch House Café at East Beach, West Bay, said:  “Hefty car park tariffs are not unique to West Bay, but we want diners to stay local and not ever be put-off by the price of car parking.

“Ultimately the numbers don’t lie. Combined footfall across all three of our sites was down this summer compared to what it was in 2022.

“Parking is just one contributing factor to this, and we do appreciate that the council has to recoup money somewhere.

“That being said, as a business we need to do what we can to attract customers who may have otherwise been put-off by the charges.”

READ: Dorset Council generated nearly £10 million in car parking

Dorset Council was asked by the News what its parking charges are spent on after it was revealed the authority generated £6 million from car parks and street parking in the 12 months leading up to March 2023 – prior to the price hikes.

A spokesperson said: “The income received from our parking tariffs helps us meet the rising costs of running our car parks and maintaining our roads.

“As government grants have reduced over the years, this takes the financial burden away from council tax payers.

For a full list of Dorset Council’s parking charge rises www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/new-parking-charges-2023