DORSET Council has refused to back down and reconsider controversial county-wide parking charge changes, despite widespread criticism.

It also suggests that a bigger review will soon be under way which could lead to further changes.

In a statement, issued on Thursday, the authority said: “The changes to parking charges will come into effect in early 2021. There are no current plans to review or reconsider this decision.”

It points out that although the charging period will be extended to include Sundays and to also charge from 8am to 8pm on other days, only a small number of car parks will see a doubling in fees - Lyme Regis (Charmouth Road and Holmbush) and West Bay (East Beach, Station Yard and West Bay Road) where car park charges will be increased from £2 for all day parking to £4. The last review of charges was in April 2014.

The council says that as charges are an ‘operational’ matter it is not required to consult on changes.

The decision was made by Cllr Ray Bryan, who states: “I made this operational decision following information from officers, using my powers as Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment.We wrote to town and parish councils to inform them of these forthcoming changes, while simultaneously issuing communications to Dorset Council members and the public so they can hear the news directly from us well in advance of the changes coming into effect. If these changes were proposals or part of a consultation, we would have engaged with councillors at an earlier stage to discuss. That said, I give my assurance to all Dorset Councillors and town and parish councils that they will be fully involved in the wider policy review of car parking charges early next year.”