The amount of money that councils charge for parking in their carparks varies greatly from city to district, town to town and even carpark to carpark.

As West Devon Borough Council announces a new consultation for residents and businesses to tell them what they think of their latest proposals for parking charges, the Council explains how these charges are worked out and why it's not a simple "One Size Fits All".

Cllr Robert Sampson, West Devon Borough Council's Lead Member for Commercial Services explains: "Parking charges are a complicated picture, we consider every carpark individually, based on where it is and what the town needs.  We take in to account the public realm surrounding the carpark and the services in that realm, like street cleansing, public toilets, ground maintenance.  All of these services are an added cost to the running of the carparks.

"Sometimes we can balance this with the needs of a particular town.  This means some tariffs can go down as well as up. We might do this to improve town centre footfall, so for example an all-day parking charge could get cheaper but a charge for a short time stay goes up - or vice versa. It depends on where a car park is and what the needs of the local environment are.

"A small car park in a busy town centre might be popular with people who want a short stay, so they can pop into the shops, whereas a less well used car park on the edge of town might have a cheap all day tariff to encourage greater use." 

West Devon Borough Council have not increased car parking charges for 5 years. In that time the cost of delivering parking services including the public realm has increased. This is a familiar picture facing many Borough and District Councils across the country. 

Cllr Sampson continued: "No-one wants to see fees and charges increased however we have to make sure that we can continue to provide a high standard of parking services to our residents.  We have for a number of years worked pro-actively with our business communities to try to set parking charges that work for local communities. We talk to local stakeholders before formal proposals are made and try to establish what works best for each area. When car parks were less well used and when the Council was able to keep charges static this worked well.

"We are now entering a period where this is just not possible. No-one in our business community wants to see charges increased - we understand this - but we have to maintain our car parking service and those services which support it."

West Devon Borough Council is now set to launch a public consultation into their latest parking charge proposals.  The Council has modelled these charges with a number of variables to try and predict the impact the changes will have on their ability to provide a car parking service.  This is normal procedure for Councils who have to estimate what a future budget might look like.

The Council works very hard to ensure that the charges they adopt won't put people off visiting the shopping centres in the Borough, and by working with town centre stakeholders they aim to provide vibrant and thriving communities which attract and will continue to attract visitors wanting to access the shops and leisure facilities.

Their role now is to invite more stakeholders and residents to consider their proposals and for them to listen to the suggestions being made. For example Tavistock business stakeholders have suggested a decrease in the all day charge in the Riverside car park to encourage better use. Tavistock, Okehampton, Hatherleigh and Chagford community stakeholders have all suggested some charging changes which they would like to see implemented to encourage either greater parking opportunity or greater motorist turnover.

The Consultation will run until 1st June and the consultation can be accessed via the Councils website at https://www.westdevon.gov.uk/article/4615/Review-of-Pay-and-Display-Charges-in-West-Devon-Borough-Council-Pay-and-Display-Car-Parks