CAR parking is to be revolutionised in Weymouth and Portland, council chiefs say.
They have axed overnight and Sunday charges throughout the winter and announced a review that will see the biggest shake-up of parking in the borough in years.
Pay by mobile and pay on exit are among the choices parking chiefs want to make available for motorists.
Councillor Christine James and head of parking Chris Graves made the announcement to traders through the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting yesterday.
Alongside officers in Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s parking department, they will be speaking to town traders and residents to collect their views on parking.
Coun James said: “I’ve been pushing for free parking for two years. We are fully intent on revolutionising car parking and bringing it into the 21st century. We haven’t been able to do this in the past.
“We’re going to be going out to the businesses but we won’t be able to knock on every door so they can also come direct to us. If people have an issue I’d rather they speak to me.
“We’re going to be listening and talking to every section of society.”
The parking review will be taking place over the next four to eight weeks.
Using a mobile phone to pay for parking could be available on a trial basis as early as January. Mr Graves said the changes would give residents more options.
“We want to do things like online permit schemes, pay on exit, pay by phone, credit cards and pre-payment scratch cards.
“This is the hugest thing to happen to parking in the last 15 to 20 years and we want to know what everyone thinks. Decisions cannot be made by the independent autonomous few,” he said.
Coun James and Mr Graves said there are plans to take recommendations from the review to the council management committee by December.
All borough council car parks and on street pay and display parking spaces will be free on Sundays and overnight between 6pm and 8am from November 1 to February 28 2013.
Tickets can be bought to add on to the end of the free overnight period. In parking places subject to maximum stay time limits, those limits will still apply.
Charges will still apply at the Crown Estate-owned car parks Castletown, Chesil and Portland Bill.
‘A positive way to get people into Weymouth’
TAHER Jibet, of Weymouth restaurant the Dining Room in St Mary Street, said the axing of overnight charges over the winter should give the town’s evening economy a boost.
He said: “This will help us a lot. It will really encourage people to stay for longer and not worry about their parking running out.
“One thing I think should be included in the review is that parking is expensive.”
Dennis Spurr, of the Fantastic Sausage Factory in St Mary Street, said news of the scrapped charges was ‘absolutely fantastic’.
“Good on the council. It’s about time they woke up. It’s a good, positive effort to entice people into Weymouth.
“As part of the review I would like them to look at how dear the parking is.
“I paid £3 to park in the Pavilion car park for two hours but the following day I went to Poole and it was £3.40 for four hours,” he said.
Chamber of commerce president Anna-Maria Geare said: “I’m pleased to hear that car parking in the town is due to be revamped.
“People’s views are important to allow these changes to happen.”
Council Abolished Fees In 2010
OVERNIGHT and Sunday parking charges in Dorchester were scrapped in September 2010 in a two year trial period.
West Dorset District Council, a partner council of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, abolished charges in all its car parks overnight and on Sundays, apart from the coastal strip between West Bexington and Lyme Regis.
The axing of charges in the county town led to fears that Weymouth was losing business to nearby Dorchester with motorists taking advantage of the newly built Weymouth Relief Road to park for free.