PLANS to double charges at a Dorchester car park have come under further attack from a director of the town’s Brewery Square development.

Andrew Wadsworth claims the developers and scheme’s business owners have not been consulted about a proposal by West Dorset District Council to hike all day charges in Fairfield car park from £2 to £4 in April.

He says had they been canvassed for their opinion they would have strongly objected to the plans for the car park which is across the road from the development site.

Mr Wadsworth said: “The council did not consult with us nor any of the commercial tenants in Brewery Square either over doubling the car park charges at Fairfield. If we, as developers of the adjoining land, and our commercial tenants, whose customers are the main users of the Fairfield car park, are not the ‘key stakeholders’, then who is?

“As ever, the council’s notion of consultation is a sham. Having ignored the key stakeholders, proceeding in a prescriptive and autocratic manner the council are pursuing an opportunistic, anti-business and anti-development policy.”

Mr Wadsworth added that doubling the price of parking could be ‘damaging to the development’ and accused the council of being ‘exploitative’.

He said: “We are fulfilling ours, and supposedly the council’s, objective of rejuvenating the county town.

“If consulted over doubling parking charges our response would have been that whilst a new leisure and retail centre is just getting off the ground, it would be damaging to the development.

“The council is already seeing considerable revenue benefits with significant increases in commercial rates and council tax revenues resulting from the development of Brewery Square.

“To exploit this further by doubling parking charges for those who use the scheme, and those who work there, is exploitative and contrary to the council’s policies to encourage business and development in the county town.”

Mr Wadsworth’s criticism is the latest in a series of objections to the scheme from users of the car park and traders including the Chamber of Commerce and the Dorchester BID (Business Improvement District).

Leader claims support for review

Leader of West Dorset District Council Robert Gould said: “Our parking policy is aimed at supporting businesses and keeping town centres within the district prosperous.

“This is why we have frozen short stay charges for the last eight years and offer free parking on Sundays and overnight in all our car parks.

“The planned increase for Middle and Little Fairfield in April this year will bring the car parks into line with the current charge for long stay parking at Top o’ Town Car Park in Dorchester and long stay car parks in other towns.

“Before agreeing any changes proposed within its annual parking review the district council consulted key stakeholders, including business forums such as the Dorchester BID and Chamber of Commerce, which represent a diverse range of businesses based in the town.

“The organisations we consulted were supportive of the review and there were no specific objections about the planned increase for Middle and Little Fairfield car park.”