Bid to make Ilfracombe pier car park long stay rejected
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Calls to convert the car park on Ilfracombe pier from short stay to long stay in a bid to make the town ‘a real destination’ have been put on hold by councillors.
North Devon Council’s strategy and resources committee on Monday, April 12, rejected the call made by councillor Netti Pearson to help the ‘nightmarish’ situation that they experienced last summer and are expecting to again this summer.
With the narrow road leading to the car park, located next to the famous Verity statue, set to be made more pedestrian friendly this summer, the request was made in a bid to reduce the movements to-and-from the car park by converting it into a long stay car park.
However, councillors rejected her calls, but instead backed further consultation to be formally carried in the town, with officers saying they couldn’t support the proposals at present as they had no idea what the impact on finances and traffic flows would be.
Cllr Pearson, who represents the Ilfracombe West ward, said: “I want the Pier car park to be long stay to reduce the movements to and from the car park. Rather than vehicles finding it full or coming down for an hour and leaving, which causes extra problems, I want us to try and have a long stay car park.
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“The town council would be happy to make sure it was cost neutral to do the changes, and ideally we would have the pier car park closed but that is a different conversation, but can we try and make Ilfracombe’s harbour a real destination rather than somewhere to pop in and out for visitors?”
She added: “The experience of Quay Road was a nightmare in terms of the way people behaved so locals didn’t go down, and it was awful. We have to make an effort to wider pedestrian space and this will narrow the road. The idea of it being a short stay car park with a narrow road and it is bad enough now. I am asking you to take a risk with one car park and help Ilfracombe and the management of people down at the quay.”
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But Ken Miles, North Devon Council’s chief executive said that he was concerned about the impact of doing this without consultation with the public and the businesses.
He added: “We cannot say if it will work, what impact it will have on traffic management or the council’s income. The main construction for the watersports centre starts on June 1 so some spaces will be unavailable and so we are already at reduced capacity in the immediate area.
“We can second guess what it will be but allied to the effect of having more visitors this summer, it will change the nature of the car park, and we can’t say what impact it will have.
“The fear is that with reduced capacity in a busy year, the last thing we want is visitors going and turning around or looking for another car park, finding capacity used up, and clearing off out of the town entirely.”
Cllr Malcom Prowse said that while anything that gets traffic away from Quay Road was a good idea, doing it in isolation was problematic, particularly when people get to the car park and if they found the only charges were £5 for five hours or £10 all day.
He added: “Doing this without an overall transport plan is a bit of a mishmash and can put as many signs as you like but people will use their satnavs and when they see the big charge at the end, they will turn around. It is better off to wait and do the whole thing together as I don’t think this on its own will make a big enough impact.”
Leader of the council, cllr David Worden, added: “I have a lot of sympathy but this is not the right time to do it at the moment as we won’t have enough time to do the consultation, but may be a sensible way forward is that when the consultation is done, we can look at it again and the whole of the Ilfracombe parking situation.”
No councillor seconded the proposal made by cllr Pearson to make the requested changes to the parking places order to convert the car park from short stay to long stay, but councillors unanimously approved a proposal to consult on the idea and bring a report back with options later in the year.
Councillors almost unanimously agreed to a raft of other parking changes across North Devon, including a ban on parking in designated electric vehicle charging bays unless the vehicle is an electric vehicle, and the vehicle is connected to the electric vehicle charging point and is being charged, and small parking charge rises in Braunton and Lynton and Lynmouth which had been requested by the parish councils.