PORTLAND Town Council has taken control of four local car parks with a plan to ensure they are kept "free of charge".

After months and years of debate between councillors, the move - voted through at a full council meeting - will see the council take control of Easton Car Park, Fortuneswell Car Park, Hambro Car Park and Lord Clyde Car Park.

There is no charge to park at those sites, but it was feared Dorset Council could introduce charges in the future if they kept control. 

Portland Town Council became responsible for the car parks and the land that was previously managed by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council on April 1, 2019.

The car parks, however, remained owned by Dorset Council whilst negotiations for the proposed transfer to the town council were ongoing.

A business case was put forward to town councillors which would see the four car parks taken into the control of the town council, whilst the Masonic Car Park and New Ground Car Park would be handed back to Dorset Council to control.

The objectives listed in the business case included a "requirement to maintain free residents' parking" to aid areas of the island that have "limited on-street parking availability" especially overnight.

The plans saw some objection from councillors, with Cllr Pete Roper accusing fellow councillors of "speaking against local democracy".

After a business case was voted down by councillors in 2022, it was voted as part of an amendment that there would be a full public consultation before any new recommendations to the council.

The previous business case would have seen all of the car parks given back to Dorset Council.

Cllr Roper had added an amendment to the new business case calling for a full public consultation on the car parks before they would be taken back.

Cllr Roper said: "I am appalled to hear councillors speaking against local democracy.

"They are scared of what the public may think. We voted for a full public consultation and now you have gone off the idea.

"I have confidence in local residents."

Cllr Tim Woodcock was one of seven councillors to vote against the amendment, with four councillors voting for it.

He said: "I agree with the consultation side but it should have been done already.

"It is time for a decision.

"If we hand these car parks to Dorset Council they will be looking to increase the charges.

"If they see a fat, juicy car park, they won't be able to help themselves putting a metre in there.

"I object to being told I am not in favour of local democracy, we are duty-bound to support that idea."