Traders are very nearly jumping for joy at the news that the 'nightmare' parking charges may come down before the season starts.

In March 2023, Dorset Council increased the parking charge of what it described as 'busy tourist areas'. This price hike was met with huge objections from residents and business owners.

Visitors have previously said they wouldn't return because of the cost of parking and traders have said the prices are killing resorts such as West Bay.

However, the recent Dorset Council elections saw the Liberal Democrats take control from the Conservatives by a one-seat margin, and Lib Dem group leader Nick Ireland has promised changes - including a review of car parking charges.

Read more: West Dorset traders slam council claims on parking income

He has indicated that the charges could even be reduced ahead of the summer months.

Current (summer charges) for West Bay Road car park are £1.50 for up to 30 minutes, £3 for an hour, £4.50 for two hours - rising to £15 for the day.

 Julien Maillot, of The Customs House Emporium at West Bay, welcomes the news prices may be reduced.

He said: "The parking has been an absolute nightmare. Since it was put in up to £15 a day we have seen the number of customers drop. 

"Reducing the charges would be amazing, it would be such good news. If they can bring the charge down by the summer, that would be a big relief."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Julien Maillot, of the Custom House EmporiumJulien Maillot, of the Custom House Emporium (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Ann Guppy, the owner of Sammii G's café and ice cream parlour, would also like to see control of the price of parking handed to Bridport to deal with.

She said: "I would definitely welcome it being reduced by the summer. Not only do we want it down we want control returned locally. So there is more control and better management."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Sammi G'sSammi G's (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Jane Massey, the manager of the Baboo Gelato ice cream kiosk in West Bay, has found the parking charge placed a considerable burden on trade. She said: "The parking charge has destroyed business in West Bay. It was a real kick in the teeth.

"We desperately need it reduced. All the businesses really need it. These changes impacted us very dearly."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Jane Massey, manager of the Baboo Gelato kiosk in West BayJane Massey, manager of the Baboo Gelato kiosk in West Bay (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Lucy Little, a kiosk worker at the Snack Shack, has noticed regulars don't visit nearly as much since the parking changes. She said: "We have regulars that used to come down three or four times a week who are only visiting every two. If people spend £15 on parking for the day they don't want to spend on much else."

Read more: Parking income decline 'due to poor weather affecting visitor numbers' says council

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Lucy Little of the Snack ShackLucy Little of the Snack Shack (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

In comments since the election victory, Cllr Nick Ireland said: “One of the first things we’re going to look at is the car parking charges as I don’t think they should be what they are. It’s like a tourist tax.

"So, we’re going to be asking to bring them down as soon as they can or at the very least not increase them. We're hoping to do this ahead of this summer before the tourists arrive. The charges will be taking money off the tourists making them less likely to come here as well as impacting a lot of local businesses as many have said their revenues are down.

"Dorset Council have seemed to ignore them, there was a petition as well which also seemed to get ignored.”