A CONSULTATION has been launched over plans to extend a parking permit scheme across all Dorset Council-run car parks.

Dorset Council believes a county-wide permit scheme would encourage more people to use struggling town centres and shop locally - although it insists it would lose around £50,000 annually in admin costs and revenue if it was introduced.

The permit talks have been launched after the council announced it would be extending car parking charges across the county and increasing rates on some sites, a decision which was pushed through without a consultation due to it being an 'operational matter'.

Residents in the former West Dorset District Council area have been able to purchase permits for several years. But all Dorset residents are now being asked if this should be extended across the Dorset Council area, or if the existing scheme should be brought to a close.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “Western Dorset residents been able to purchase shoppers permits for several years, and we are asking people across the county if this is something they’d also like to benefit from.

“Offering residents a convenient and cost-saving way to park would encourage them to shop locally, supporting businesses and breathing life back into our high streets at a time when many shops are struggling.

“However, it could have a financial impact on the council through reduced revenue and administration charges, and we want to know how people feel about this too. Please give us your thoughts by taking part in the consultation.”

The current Shopper’s Permit is a cardboard disk which is displayed in vehicle windscreens. The new permit may be virtual where the registration number allows access for a set period in short stay car parks.

The consultation runs from 30 October to midnight on 6 December 2020. It will take approximately 5 minutes to complete. Take part at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/shoppers-permit-survey

Paper copies of the survey will be available in Dorset libraries from early November. Please phone ahead before visiting or check www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/libraries for opening times.

Parking permit holders in the former West Dorset District Council area currently get two hours’ parking per day (or three hours if a disabled badge is also displayed), on seven days a week. 

At extra cost to the purchaser, the permit can be used in a second vehicle but not on the same day. The consultation asks if shoppers would like the permit to allow them to park for more than 2 hours. If a decision is made to stop the scheme, the western Dorset permits will remain valid until their expiry date.

The council said it will be introducing new county-wide charges in a bid claw back some of the £2 million they lost in parking charges during the pandemic.

From early next year, drivers using any Dorset Council car park will be charged for parking 8am to 8pm every day - two hours longer than currently (6pm).

New fees will also be introduced to park on Sundays on car parks in Beaminster, Blandford, Bridport, Dorchester, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Sturminster Newton.

In Lyme Regis (Charmouth Road and Holmbush) and West Bay (East Beach, Station Yard and West Bay Road), car park charges will be increased from £2 for all day parking to £4. It is the first time the charges have been reviewed in these sites since April 2014.