A ROW has broken out over Parking in Wey-mouth as the town gears up for an overhaul of its transport links.

More than 130 car parking spaces at the Swannery car park have been taken up by a Dorset County Council compound connected with work on the Olympic transport network through the town.

The compound will be in place until July next year.

Weymouth and Portland borough councillor Tim Munro, who represents Portland’s Underhill ward, claims turning over spaces at the cheaper car park to a works compound could force out-of-town residents to pay more to park elsewhere.

The borough council is hiking up charges at town centre car parks in an effort to persuade people to leave their cars at sites outside the centre such as the Swannery.

Coun Munro said: “This compound has been opened for the machinery for the transport work.

“We’ve got a number of spaces being taken up and I’m concerned that for people from Portland and other out-of-town areas there will be a loss of affordable car parking spaces.

“I’m sure there will be points during the summer when the remaining spaces will be full and there will be nowhere else for people to go other than the car parks nearer to the town.”

Coun Munro pointed out that the charges at town centre car parks were set higher than those at the Swannery car park by the borough council in an attempt to keep cars out of the town centre.

He added: “It’s a near rip-off. The borough council will be getting paid once by the county council for the lease of the spaces and then people will be paying the higher parking charges to park closer to town.

“That’s going to be bad for tourism and the town centre’s profitability.

“The net effect could be that people from out of town end up going to Bridport or Dorchester to do their shopping instead.”

The borough council’s transport spokesman Christine James responded to Coun Munro’s claims by saying he was ‘being awkward about things’.

She added: “This is just Tim Munro being Tim Munro.

“The fact that he’s saying we’re forcing people to use other car parks is rubbish – he’s just trying to stir things up and cause trouble.

“Yes, we’re leasing out spaces but it’s for the greater good.

“We’re being compensated by the county council for the spaces they’re using.

“Parking charges are always going to be an emotive subject but people need to understand this is in aid of a public transport package.

“I think a lot of people have been forgetting that.”

A county council spokesman confirmed the authority is leasing 134 of the Swannery car park’s 959 spaces.

He added: “Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is leasing part of the Swannery car park, which provides long-stay parking for visitors, to us and is receiving rent to compensate for lost parking revenue.

“After negotiation with the borough council they decided to lease space in the car park, which is close to where the works are taking place and easy for the public to view plans of the scheme and talk with project staff.”