South Hams District Council’s Executive has agreed to postpone a decision by a week, on proposals for parking and travel arrangements for Dartmouth’s Park and Ride service.

This is to allow for further discussions to be held with key local partners.

The proposals were to double the cost of the Park and Ride from £5 to £10 and to reduce the operating hours to between 9am and 6pm.

Cllr Victor Abbott said that the current scheme was losing £154,000 a year.

Dartmouth Town Council, and the newly formed town’s Chamber of Commerce attended the Executive meeting to share their views on the proposals.

They requested the opportunity to work through the proposals with the District Council to ensure Park and Ride bus running times and frequency of the services are as aligned to the needs of the community and visitors as possible.

Jo Hind from the Chamber of Commerce said that such an increase would make visiting Dartmouth unaffordable for many families and harm business.

The Committee welcomed the opportunity to work alongside the town on these proposals and postponed any Executive decision until further discussions could take place.

It also recognised that the work done to date had secured some really important improvements within a sustainable package; bringing the No. 92 bus service into the site out of season when the Park and Ride service isn’t running and allowing anyone to use the Park and Ride bus service to get to the top of the town even if not using the carpark.

The report proposals followed many years of rising costs which has led to the Park and Ride service running at a large loss.

There has been no increase in Park and Ride charges for the public in nearly a decade and a half.

Cllr Nicky Hopwood suggested that a special pass be introduced for South Hams residents and that local people might be charged the existing rate of £5 while those from outside the district could pay £7.

The committee will meet again to discuss revised proposals at a Special Executive Meeting next Wednesday 13 March. The Executive plans will then get the views of Dartmouth residents in a 21 day consultation once proposals have been agreed.

During the meeting, the Committee also agreed to continue with the current parking provision at the Health Hub in terms of free parking spaces available.

The decisions follow agreement in June last year, to review residents’ concerns about parking at the Health Hub.

The Health Hub parking will stay as two 20-minute patient drop off bays, with eight extra free one-hour parking spaces. Blue badge holders will be able to use the one-hour free parking ticket plus gain the use of an extra free hour parking within the Blue Badge bays.

This will again be reviewed in September at the 12-month stage.

Cllr Victor Abbott, the Executive Member for Community Services and Operations, said: "The Park and Ride has been costing us a huge amount of money to subsidise and for 14 years we haven’t raised prices, while everything around us has gone up massively. If the service is to remain running in a similar way to it is now, then something needs to change.

“However, we are more than happy to work with the Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce to see how we can agree proposals that work for everyone and then we will be asking for the views of our residents through a public consultation. We will advertise the consultation shortly, so please keep an eye out in the papers, our social media, or check our consultation page on our website where it will be posted.

"As for the Health Hub, the parking there has been working well over the past six months and we have been regularly reviewing all our parking data.

“The free parking spaces are well used with over three quarters of the stays using the free one-hour parking spaces. It is recognised this is a new parking provision and there is a need to continue to review parking patterns before thinking about any operational changes.

“With this in mind, we’re happy to keep the current arrangements and review again in another six months.”