A YEAR may have passed since the change, yet emotions run high all the same for a group of residents from Kingskerswell protesting the introduction of a pay and display system in their village’s car park, which had been free for years.
With home-made placards, more than 40 residents gathered at Fore Street car park to protest the change, which, in spite of being introduced in April of last year, continues to elict a strong feeling of frustration and anger.
Given that options for parking are, it would be fair to say, scant in and around Fore Street, and the fact that a number of the properties in the area are without a dedicated parking space, the car park, which stood as perhaps the last remaining stronghold for free parking, became, and remains to be, an essential resource for both residents and those passing through the village, to visit the Co-op store.
While it is true that the pay and display machine was installed some time ago, it has only been in the past few weeks that tickets have been issued, hence the renewed expression of feeling.
A group of residents at the protest said: ‘We think the machine was installed in September and they [TDC] have been collecting although the signage hadn’t been place, so they weren’t issuing any parking tickets until April.
‘From September to April there were parking tickets and then all of a sudden new signs have gone up in last couple of weeks and they [TDC] have started issuing parking tickets.’
So, why the change? A spokesman for Teignbridge District Council explains.
‘The car park was switched to pay and display over a year ago in April 2022, bringing it into line with other car parks across the district.
‘The change was made as it was unfair on residents in other parts of the district that they were effectively subsidising motorists parking for free in the Fore Street car park.
‘The arrangements introduced last year bring Fore Street into line with all other carparks run by Teignbridge.’
A blanket policy for its car parks is not all that convincing for Simon Baxter, who lives on Fore Street.
‘The car park has always served the customers of the businesses along Fore Street, as well as the residents, who have nowhere else convenient to park, and there have been no real problems,’ Simon said.
‘They [TDC] say they want to have the same policy for all car parks.
‘But different car parks have different functions depending where they are. Some serve mostly shoppers, or a beach, or leisure centre, some have lots of on-street parking close by.
‘One policy does not fit all, and the Kingskerswell car park should be free.
‘In any case, TDC’s claim for a consistent policy across all car parks is ill-advised,’ he added.
As menitoned earlier, Fore Street car park serves as many residents’ primary parking location and so in the wake of the change the issue of whether parking permits could be obtained soon arose.
It was not meant to be. A 20-minute free period, which those present at the protest claimed was mooted to them by Teignbridge Council at a meeting of Kingskerswell Parish Council, was also disputed.
‘The size of the car park makes it impractical to have permits as there would be many occasions when holders would be unable to park,’ the spokesman for Teignbridge District Council said.
‘The cost of a full day’s parking is £1.40 and at no stage did we say that there would be a 20-minute free period’ they added.
Another resident of Kingskerswell, Alistair, who moved to the village five years ago, said: ‘I think it is important we look after the local community and local businesses. It is so stupid this because it will kill the business along Fore Street.
‘You can get so much online but we have got to keep the shops for the community
‘It is a ridiculous decision, but they [TDC] don’t listen. I think it is important that they listen to the people of the village.’