Traders have hit back at the council's claim that poor car park income was caused by poor weather and not the parking charge hike.

In early 2023 Dorset Council increased the price of using council car parks at popular tourist towns such as Weymouth, West Bay and Lyme Regis.

During the summer day-long parking cost £15. For the winter period this has reduced to £9 for the day - which is still higher than in 2022.

As previously reported by the Echo, the council forecast a 25% increase in parking fees each month but saw only 4.3% in July and 6% in August.

The director in charge of these services, Matthew Piles, told councillors that the summer had been much worse for visitor numbers than expected, causing a big dip in anticipated car park income. A council spokesperson blamed this dip on poor weather.

Read more: Dorset Council parking income hit by bad weather

Dorset Echo: Park Street Car Park in Weymouth was one of those effected by the price hikePark Street Car Park in Weymouth was one of those effected by the price hike (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Traders in Weymouth however claim that rather than the weather, visitors were turned away by the sheer price of parking.

Chris Simmons, owner of Nostalgia Unlimited on Westham Road near Park Street Car Park in said: "It is because they doubled and tripled the charges and people are saying they won't be coming back.

"If you increase the charges and income stays the same, then there has been less use.

"The weather will have had an effect but it won't have been the primary cause and it's not what most people were complaining about.

"Next year is going to be interesting because I think it is going to have a knock-on effect."

Dorset Echo: Chris SimmonsChris Simmons (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Pete Chamberlain, the owner of Quayside Leather also on Westham Road, said: "I think they have cut their own throats really. People always come in and mention it. About 90% of complaints are about parking.

"It has got nothing to do with the weather. It is a lack of people coming in because of the charges, that is the cause. It affects us all down here. It is very noticeable."

In addition to the weather, a Dorset Council spokesperson blamed the success of its permit offer and delays in tariff changes due to the installation of new machines.

Read more: Nearly £10m made in a year from car parks prior to price hike

Marie Miller, the owner of The Blue Iris Gallery on St Thomas Street said: "I don't think it was just the weather. So many visitors complained about the excessive car parking charges."

Lea Phillips owns The Happy Crab Gallery on Gloucester Street.

She said: "I think it is partly the economy, partly because last year more people came to Weymouth after the pandemic.

"I think the car parking price turned people away but I also just think there were fewer people around in general."

Dorset Echo: Lea PhillipsLea Phillips (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Earlier this year, Nigel Sims-Duff, the owner of the Palm House Café in Weymouth, collected more than 7,000 signatures calling for a reduction in parking charges.