Review of Dorset car parking charges to be held this week

THE impact of parking charge changes in Dorset will be discussed at a meeting this week.

Last year, on-street and car park charges were standardised across the county, adjusting fees in rural areas, shopping districts and tourist locations.

On-street parking charges were aligned, and two new car park permits introduced to give residents and workers in Dorset a parking option that was value for money, Dorset Council said.

A review of the impact of changes will be presented to members of the council’s Place and Resources Scrutiny on January 26.

Parking use has been monitored since the implementation of the new charges and the number of customers parking does not appear to have reduced, the council said before the meeting.

They said income from car parking is invested back into the running of the council’s parking service, and the maintenance of the car parks and on-street parking places.

Any surplus is spent on highway improvements and public transport.

Councillors will also be updated on the replacement of pay and display machines, to improve reliability and provide a better service for residents and visitors.

Since June, 19 new machines have been installed across the council’s car parks. with 70 more ready for installation by the summer.

The new machines accept cash, contactless bank cards and Apple/Google Pay and will cost £1.4 million.

Further changes also being made to parking include:

Simplifying the application process for permits, and a new physical permit offered to customers who do not have access to a mobile or smart phone.

A new multiday ticket is to be introduced following feedback from holidaymakers and accommodation businesses.

Dedicated areas installed at Portland and West Bay for long (6 metre-plus) motorhomes, with plans in place to provide motorhome parking in Dorchester and Weymouth too.

Increasing maximum stay limits in all Dorset Council car parks to three or four hours. This followed feedback from customers who told us they had insufficient time for some activities.

Routine maintenance is underway in all the car parks. This includes lighting and repairs, and an inspection of vegetation, trees and car park surfaces.

Work has also started on improving parking enquiry response times, enabling the council’s customer services team to deal with non-complex queries while the parking services team can answer questions that need more specialist knowledge, such as legislation.

The council’s website is also being developed to make it easier for customers to self-serve.

Cllr Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “Our aim was to standardise parking charges across our car parks and on-street that worked for as many people as possible.

“We wanted the new changes to strike a balance between supporting our town centres and high streets, as well as ensuring charging could sustain our car parks and highways.

“During the process, it came to light some aspects did not work properly, so we have listened to the concerns of residents and businesses and made further changes.

“As part of our ongoing focus on improving the parking service for customers, we will continue to make the process better for customers.”

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