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Charges at Dorset Council-run car parks set to change

Changes are being brought in across the Dorset Council area to make car parking charges more consistent.

From early next year, drivers using any Dorset Council car park will be charged for parking 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday. This extends the chargeable period by two hours in most areas and introduces paying to park on Sundays for car parks in Beaminster, Blandford, Bridport, Dorchester, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Sturminster Newton.

In Lyme Regis (Charmouth Road and Holmbush) and West Bay (East Beach, Station Yard and West Bay Road), car park charges will be increased from £2 for all day parking to £4. The last review of charges in these popular visitor destinations was in April 2014. All other existing car park tariffs will remain unchanged at this time.

Alongside these changes to car parks, to support local high streets Dorset Council is exploring a potential council-wide shoppers permit. The permit has run in West Dorset for 23 years and provides shoppers with discounted parking in short stay car parks to help them shop locally.

A shoppers’ permit consultation will start this Autumn to help evaluate the proposal.

The changes come as part of an ongoing review of car parks following the creation of Dorset Council and aims to make car park charging more comparable across the council area.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “It became apparent at an early stage of our car parks review that charges had not been reviewed for several years and changes needed to be made for a more consistent approach.

“As a council in a challenging financial position, we are trying to achieve a delicate balance of maximising income from our car parks while ensuring residents and visitors will still choose to support our high streets, beaches and attractions.

“While we were looking at these charges before the pandemic hit, it is more important than ever to make these changes now. Through national lockdown measures, people self-isolating and temporary free parking schemes, we have lost around £2m from our car parks so far this year at a time when we need the money most.”

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