Anger from Weymouth tourism leaders over parking permit changes
Weymouth holiday businesses have branded Dorset Council’s decision to end preferential parking for their customers a ‘mistake’.
New parking regulations mean that hotels and guesthouse owners will no longer be able to apply for annual permits or buy scratch parking cards for their guests.
They say the decision will deter visitors from coming to town when they realize they may have to pay an extra £70 a week, or more, to park.
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But portfolio holder Ray Bryan says the privilege is not appreciated by other Dorset towns and Dorset Council will stand by its decision, although it will monitor the effect of the changes.
“Having completed a benchmarking exercise against other similar tourist destinations in the south of England, it has been decided that all discounted car parks for visitors and tourists in Dorset should be removed in order that affordable permits can be introduced to support people who live and work in Dorset,” Cllr Bryan told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (March 1).
In questions to council, Dawn Rondeau on behalf of ‘We are Weymouth’, which represents over 560 businesses in the town, including 67 accommodation providers, said: ‘These discounted permits and scratch cards are vital not just for businesses, but for visitors to the town, who may already be put off by Weymouth’s lack of parking or park and ride facilities, providing them with an affordable parking option in the town when visiting, which for a seven day stay, could equate to £70 – a significant and deterrent sum…
“We are confident that the abolition of annual permits and scratch cards will be detrimental to the economy of visitors to Weymouth, with potential visitors to the town opting to choose another seaside resort, where parking is more readily available at a cost reduced or free.”
Hotel/guesthouse association president Claire Wall said at the meeting, “You can’t imagine the amount of stress and anxiety this has caused.
“As a popular tourist town, our members now feel undervalued with this unfair handicap to our businesses. We don’t understand why no discussion has been undertaken on the impact it would have if these scratch cards were removed… We all believe that without this offer we would see less footfall in our city and the businesses that also rely on the tourism like us will also see decline. These also include restaurants, cafes, theaters, shops, even boat trips, buses, taxis and day trips.
This all depends on tourism, tourism is Weymouth’s main income and should be viewed favorably.
“Tourism has been hit hard during the pandemic and needs the support, understanding and consideration of Dorset Council to help rebuild our businesses to pre-covid levels.”
Cllr Bryan said: “The impact of this decision will be monitored and changes will be made if necessary. This year the use of Weymouth Park & Ride will be investigated to see if there is a more affordable parking option for visitors to Weymouth.
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