New car park prices have been labelled "excessive and unreasonable" by a town business owner who says the prices are making customers buy less or even stay away.

Nigel Sims-Duff owns the Palm House Café in Weymouth, located next to two council-owned car parks in Melcombe Regis.

Dorset Echo: Palm House Café in WeymouthPalm House Café in Weymouth (Image: Tom Lawrence)

In March, Dorset Council revealed it would be raising prices in some car parks in Dorset, saying it would focus on "tourist areas" to limit the impact on local residents.

Prices were increased in Weymouth car parks such as Weymouth Beach, Melcombe Regis, Overcombe, Lodmoor and the Pavilion car parks.

Car park charges in these areas were previously £1 for up to 30 mins, £2 for up to an hour, and £3 for up three hours during peak season.

After the increase, charges are now £1.50 for up to 30 mins, £3 for up to an hour, £4.50 for up to two hours and £6 for three hours.

Mr Sims-Duff said: "Lots of my customers are coming in and complaining about the price hike, they think it is unreasonable, unfair and unjustifiable.

"People are cutting back on their spending in shops and the time they spend in shops because of the prices."

Mr Sims-Duff has now started a petition and is trying to send a message to the council that the prices are "unacceptable".

The petition on is urging the council to lower charges to make them the same prices as other Dorset towns such as Dorchester and Shaftesbury, where prices have not increased.

Dorset Echo: The café is located next to the Council-owned Melcombe Regis car parkThe café is located next to the Council-owned Melcombe Regis car park (Image: Tom Lawrence)

He said: "I have spoken to people who are paying £1.50 just to nip to the doctors or dentists.

"In our cafe people are spending £6 for 3 hours parking and they wont get a second drink due to the cost.

"This will stop people staying longer, I can't see how it could generate more income by making people pay more."

A regular coffee at the Palm House Café is £2.20, but the price for parking outside the cafe is £4.50 for two hours.

Mr Sims-Duff added: "If you come in for one coffee and stay for two hours, you will be spending over £6.

"That is ridiculous and customers probably won't come back very often.

"The council has gone too far this time."

Dorset Council has maintained its stance that the impact on residents and businesses will be "minimal".

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: “As is the case for everyone, we are unfortunately faced with rising costs and we announced in March that we would need to meet these by increasing the cost of parking in some of our car parks.

“We have aimed to keep the impact on residents and businesses to a minimum, with not all tariffs increasing. For example, in Weymouth Governors Lane, Cozens Quay and Council offices car park prices have not increased, and our permits for residents, businesses and workers also bring significant savings.

“Our Short Stay permit enabling two hours parking in many of our car parks every day costs £78 a year, so if even just used for two hours a week that is £1.50 a time.

“Our Flexi car park permit parking permit, giving unlimited parking in the majority of our car parks costs £25 if purchased for a month, or £260 for 12 months, the equivalent of £5 a week for year-round parking.”

“No one welcomes price increases, especially during times of rising living costs, so we have designed the increases and permits to have the least impact on Dorset residents, workers, and businesses.”