BUSINESSES remain very concerned about 'rip off' parking charges despite a freeze on prices.

Dorset Council has decided not to increase parking fees for the coming months, however, the prices will still change from winter rates to summer rates on April 1.

The council said there is "no intention" to increase tariffs this year, but said the prices are under "regular review".

The decision comes after controversy during the past 12 months when big fee rises, especially for the county’s resort areas such as West Bay and Lyme Regis, were widely opposed by businesses and residents.

Local councillors, traders, residents and visitors have all expressed concern about the price of parking - especially at a time when families are struggling - and there are fears people will be put off visiting coastal areas altogether, or cutting short their stays.

Tim Attrill runs West Bay gift shop Harbour Gifts with wife Nicole.

Mr Attrill said that customers have complained about high car parking prices, even with winter rates, where an hour of parking currently costs £1.50.

He said: "It is still really high and a lot of people are being put off by how high it is

"It has affected us over the winter months, people are being put off by paying £1.50 to park for just an hour.

"We have had loads of comments this year even throughout the quiet months, locals don't want to pay that much for a short time, they will go somewhere else.

"It has affected us massively.

"I am split on my feeling because it is great that it isn't going up but it is a shame they haven't looked at putting it down."

Simon Titchener, owner of The Lyme Fossil Shop on Broad Street, said the charges are giving potential customers a "bad first impression" of Lyme Regis.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The Lyme Fossil Shop on Broad StreetThe Lyme Fossil Shop on Broad Street (Image: Google Maps)

He said: "£3 (for one hour) is just ridiculous because they are ripping people off.

"It leaves a bad taste in their mouth before they have even got to the shops.

"Their first impressions are being ripped off when they park and they are already in a bad mood when they get here.

"We get lots of comments from people who say they would have spent a whole day in Lyme but only stay for an hour because of prices.

"It's happening in West Bay and here in Lyme Regis, it is affecting the whole area because the council are being greedy as hell."

Simon's wife Lindy, who also works at the shop, added: "Every single customer is complaining about the car park, it is affecting the whole of the town.

"Some people never even park, they see the prices and then turn around and go home."