THE introduction of overnight parking charges has been defended by Mid Devon District Council.

It has been enforcing night-time charges of £1, from last Friday, between 5pm and 8am each day, including weekends – but excluding the multi-storey car park in Tiverton which is locked overnight between 8pm and 6am.

Council head of environmental services Paul Williams said the new scheme means the car park’s running costs are covered by users rather than the taxpayer – and that the car parks had previously only charged for ten hours, despite offering a 24-hour service.

He said: “The Cabinet member set up a car park working party which included members from all parties to look at the charging arrangements for the council’s car parks.

“It met on a number of occasions and considered several matters – the original council decision taken in 2012 was that the tariffs would increase by 10p across all car parks annually until 2015.

“Car parking charges had, previous to the 2012 decision, not risen since 2008. The recommendation of the Cabinet working party was fully published and included, among other things, 15 minutes free at West Exe South car park, the retention of five hours for £1 at Tiverton multi-storey car park and High Street, Crediton, and be extended to Cullompton long stay car park – and also the introduction of an overnight parking fee of £1. The council provides the facility for 24 hours but was only charging 0800-1800.

“The revenue raised from car parking contributes to the cost of running the facility and aims to charge the users rather than the council taxpayer.”

A council statement last week explained plans for the scheme and said patrols had now begun.

It said: “The scheme to charge for overnight parking was approved by the Cabinet in February this year and since that time we have been operating a trial period of warning those who do not display a ticket.

“Regular patrols will be made of our car parks and those not displaying a valid parking ticket will receive a parking enforcement notice.