Parking charges set to change across Dorset

Parking charges set to change across Dorset

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:06am 25th February 2020.

Three levels of car parking charges are being considered by Dorset Council across the whole area – according to Dorchester councillors.

The town council was told that the new authority is hoping to harmonise fees and is investigating three basic bands– for seaside towns, bigger towns and villages and rural areas.

Dorset Council is also said to be looking at charging for evening parking for the first time in some car parks where there are currently no fees after 6pm.

'Charges after 6pm' 

fairfield car park dorchester
Fairfield car park, Dorchester

One of these is said to be Dorchester’s Fairfield car park which, since the development of Brewery Square, has gone from being one of the town’s quietest car parks in the evening, to being one of the busiest.

Dorchester Mayor, Richard Biggs, says he understands that the evening fees will be used to address security concerns at the car park by paying for street lighting for the first time.

He said he would welcome the lights because the now popular car park is pitch black in the evenings, apart from incidental lighting from nearby buildings.

Fellow town and Dorset Council member Cllr Andy Canning told town councillors that he hoped that Dorset Council would learn from the mistakes of previous councils when considering any changes and would consult with local people and businesses about the effects any new fees, or charging hours, might have.

Weymouth Car Park
Parking in Weymouth is more expensive than Dorchester.

'Higher charges in Weymouth'

Weymouth town councillors have in recent months complained about the town having much higher car parking fees than neighbouring Dorchester and all of the town’s car parking income going to Dorset Council.

In the past most of the income collected in the resort stayed with the now disbanded borough council, but now all of it goes into Dorset Council coffers.

A spokesman for Dorset Council said it was too early to comment on any proposals which it says have yet to be formalised – but provided a comment from Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, which said:

"Dorset Council recognises that parking across Dorset needs to be harmonised and fair for all residents.

"We are currently working through what the proposals will look like and plan to report to the council what these options will be in the near future."

Car park digital signs

'Income from parking' 

Financial projections within the council budget assume an additional £300,000 a year from car parking fees and spending an extra £25,000 during the year on new ticket machines.

The budget has also been worked out on a presumed average 2.3 per cent increase across the board in all council charges for the coming financial year which starts in April.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter