Teignbridge Council has come under fire for introducing charges in a village car park which had been free to use for years.

The authority will meet with angry residents to find a way of solving the problem.

It now costs drivers a pay-and-display fee to use the Fore Street car park at Kingskerswell, and 300 of them have signed a petition to protest at the change.

Cllr Jane Taylor (South Devon Alliance, Kerswell with Coombe) aired their grievances at a meeting of the Teignbridge overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, 11 July.

She said she understood the decision to charge for the car park in principle, but said there had not been enough consultation.

“The community and the parish council felt that the whole issue was being forced upon them,” she said. “As a result of trying to get some income for Teignbridge there have been some unforeseen consequences.”

She said narrow streets in the village were now blocked as people sought free on-street parking as an alternative to the car park.

“A lot of those residents can’t afford to pay the fees that are being asked,” she said. “And local businesses are suffering.

“I’m sure that this is not what Teignbridge wanted when it made this car park fee-paying. Teignbridge should not be doing things to people, it should be doing things for people, and in this case we are not.”

Residents, she said, should be able to get hold of a permit, as others have been able to in other places in the district.

Council leader Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish North East) said the council would meet the residents to work out a solution.

“I don’t think there is any quick fix to this, but we need something better,” he said.

“We Liberal Democrats were elected on the promise of a community-powered council, and what has happened here is certainly not what a community-powered council does.’

“Kingskerswell is not alone. This might apply to village car parks across the patch.”