WEYMOUTH is set to lose more free parking this month if a trial goes ahead to create al fresco dining areas on the harbourside.

The plans, which would see tables and chairs replace some parking bays, have been welcomed by harbourside venues.

But there are claims council chiefs have failed to inform everyone who could be affected.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is in discussions with Dorset County Council about temporarily changing some of the one-hour parking bays along Custom House Quay this summer into roped-off outside dining areas. An announcement will be made next week on the experiment.

It is part of the borough’s parking revolution which has seen a shake-up of parking provision including the loss of free spaces in certain areas such as the Pavilion forecourt, and pay and display charges reduced.

When dining area plans were first discussed, assurances were given there would be opportunity for comment via a traffic regulation order (TRO). But now it looks as though a trial could go ahead without consultation just for the summer to see if it is a success.

Borough transport spokesman Christine James said it was hoped to run the trial without the need for a TRO.

She said traffic would still flow down the road and the business of the harbour, including loading of fish and deliveries to bars, would continue as normal. Disabled spaces would also be provided.

But local fisherman Andy Alcock has lambasted the plan as a ‘disaster waiting to happen’ due to the mix of diners and traffic and claimed people who work around the harbour had not been kept informed.

While the council say areas will be made available for loading and deliveries, Mr Alcock said details needed to be discussed before announcing a trial.

He said: “They’ve asked half a dozen restaurants who want to get customers in but no-one else.

“They forget it’s a working harbour. Whatever happened to the traffic notice to inform everyone?”

Colin Horne of Weyfish said: “The council has assured me vans will still have access to the shop but we will have to see.

“I am a bit disappointed that they are taking away the parking though because there is hardly any left at the bottom end of the town and with shops closing it is just dying. It feels like the council is trying to rush it through.”

Firoz Kanji collected more than 800 signatures in a petition last year against moves to remove the parking bays.

He said: “The town is not just owned by four of five businesses along the harbour.

“The council should ask all businesses. Free parking in the town centre is essential to the survival of small businesses.”

Cllr James said it was a trial to see if it worked, adding: “It’s a working harbour as well. We know the fishermen have to work.

“We are already talking to Dorset County Council about it. Once they have had a look and had a chat, they ill come back to us and say yes or no.”

Traders welcome the move

MANAGER of Sharky’s Jason Seale said he thought the idea was good for the summer so people could enjoy the views, but described it as a ‘double-edged sword,’ as free parking for people using businesses would be removed.

He added: “I think it’s a great idea for the summer. The harbour is the focal point of the town.”

Tom Flood, manager of Floods restaurant, said he would welcome the move.

He said: “It would be a lovely idea for the summer, especially with the weather we have had.”

Keith Treggiden, manager at Rendezvous, said: “I think it’s amazing.

“It’s been a long time coming to bring Weymouth harbour into the 21st century.

“People want to be able to sit and watch the world go by and what a better place to do it than our beautiful harbourside.”

Mark Vaughan, owner of Vaughan’s, said: “We welcome the idea, it’s all to do with making Weymouth a better place.”