NEW parking charges in Weymouth have come under fire.
And council chiefs have also been criticised for failing to promote the pay and display charges in front of the Pavilion.
Sixteen parking bays on the forecourt used to offer 30 minutes free parking.
Charges were introduced last week, catching a few drivers out who were unaware of the change.
Five bays on the opposite side of the car park are for visitors to the Pavilion who can park for free for 20 minutes so they can use the venue’s services.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, which is introducing measures as part of a parking strategy approved last year, says the change was advertised in the correct manner and no-one objected.
But there are claims it was not promoted enough.
It is still being advertised as free parking on the Dorset for You website.
Resident Ian Brooke said: “Personally I think this is a mistake and again a decision seems to have been done with no consultation.
“The council is going to upset an awful lot of people for no good reason. There’s only a dozen or so spaces so it’s not like a huge amount of money will be made.”
Borough councillor Francis Drake agreed the authority did not promote parking changes enough.
Andy Cooke, who runs marketing firm Getaway Digital, said he didn’t think there was adequate signage informing people they could park for free to access tourist information at the Pavilion.
Artist Mike Taylor, of Osmington, said he thought introducing charges was a ‘terrible idea’.
One annoyed driver, who was caught out by the new charge and given a fine, criticised the council for not promoting the change adequately.
He said: “I must have parked for free outside the Pavilion for at least 30 years.
“It’s handy for popping into town for 15 minutes. I thought the traffic warden would be a bit lenient and warn me there is now a charge to park here.”
Phil Say who runs the Pavilion said: “People are a bit bemused they now have to pay.
“But with every swing there’s a roundabout as it’s free to park overnight so that’s good news for people who want to see a show.”
• New Pavilion parking charges
CHARGES in front of the Pavilion apply 9.30am-6.30pm, seven days a week.
Up to an hour costs 50p, two hours costs £1.50, three hours costs £3 and four hours – the maximum stay – costs £4.
A borough council spokesman said a notification was printed in the Echo on July 11. It is one of more than 40 recommendations in the annual parking review.
Transport spokesman Cllr Christine James, pictured inset, said the changes were advertised via correct channels and no objections were received.
She added: “The meters are there, the changes were well advertised, and people should not be getting caught out.
“There are five dedicated spaces for the Pavilion ticket office.
“The charges bring the area in line with everywhere else. It is to stop drivers and taxis just stopping there for half an hour then moving on and also to stop people driving round the town looking for a free space.
“The change was advertised via a Traffic Regulation Order and people had a chance to object. The Pavilion was consulted and was happy to be given dedicated spaces for the box office.
“Previously people could have gone to buy tickets, not been able to find a space because people were using them all for free.”