TEMPERS flared at a meeting discussing an 'extortionate' increase in Weymouth's car parking charges.

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

Prices were controversially increased in several Weymouth car parks - with motorists now needing to fork out £15 for a day's parking, and £1.50 for up to 30 minutes.

A Weymouth Town Council (WTC) meeting was held on Wednesday to discuss the rise, which saw Cllr Christine James storm out of the fiery meeting.

Members voted unanimously to write to Dorset Council to request an 'urgent review' to look again at the charges.

They also agreed to support a petition started by café owner Nigel Sims-Duff which encourages Dorset Council to reduce Weymouth charges in line with other Dorset towns. 

Last month, Mr Sims-Duff, who runs the Palm House Café in Melcombe Regis car park, labelled the price hike 'excessive and unreasonable'.

He spoke out again at the meeting, telling councillors the 'whole system is flawed'.

"It is unfair that Weymouth residents and visitors have to pay three times the hourly rate than they do in other towns in Dorset," Mr Sims-Duff said.

"I think this whole system is flawed. It is discouraging people to stay and spend time in Weymouth."

Dorset Council has urged residents to buy permits to save money, but Mr Sims-Duff claimed this was 'not an answer' as people needed to pay up front and were limited in how long the permit covered.

The café owner's petition has garnered more than 5,000 overall signatures and is planned to be discussed at a Dorset Council meeting in July. 

After a lengthy debate, Cllr Matt Bell was named as the person to speak on behalf of WTC when the petition is submitted.

But this angered Cllr Christine James, who had hoped to also be named as a representative alongside Cllr Bell.

When it went to a vote between the pair, 18 councillors opted in favour of the latter, leading to Cllr James to storm out of the meeting.

"I am getting a bit fed up with anything I want to do getting out-voted by all the Lib Dems and everybody else who thinks I am a waste of space," she said, adding 'you're just a bunch of a***h****' as she left.

Councillor Jon Orrell had earlier told the meeting that Weymouth is the 'most deprived town in Dorset' but was still being hit by increased charges.

"It is unfair that the poorest town in Dorset has the highest charges," he said.

"Why should it cost more to go to the beach when you can go and see a castle in Sherborne for a third of the price? It is not right, it should be the same."

While Cllr Tia Roos added that some charities have been complaining about the rise in charges.

Cllr Colin Huckle questioned the level of consultation given by Dorset Council on the price hikes, adding a 'big advert in the paper passed everybody by'. 

Cllr Ryan Hope, who proposed the motion on the car parking charges, told the meeting that some people were 'missing medical appointments' as they 'cannot afford to park'.

He added that these residents have 'no option' but to drive in due to a 'lack' of public transport services in their areas.

The recommendation also requested that Dorset Council 'works with bus operators to bring back the bus to the free park and ride'.

Cllr Richard Nickinson told the meeting that councils have seen car parking charges as the 'cash cow' that brings in lots of revenue, and questioned whether Dorset Council would be persuaded to back down on their plans.