Bikers, businesses, council chiefs and residents are getting revved up over proposals to introduce parking charges to Matlock Bath.
Opinion is split as to whether the pay and display parking scheme, which has been suggested by Derbyshire County Council for North and South Parades, will be a help or hinder trade.
Parking on the parades is currently free for up to one hour, however the a report prepared by the authority suggested charges of between £1.30 for up to one hour and £4 up to four hours.
It was also suggested that motorbikers pay 50p per hour.
The biking community has hit out at the proposals, with a petition against them being launched by the Sheffield Motorcycle Centre.
Hathersage biker Peter Wood, who has been visiting Matlock Bath for many years, said: “This has always been a haunt for bikers and when you get a really good day here it’s absolutely chocker with bikes – you don’t want to lose that.”
Likewise, some traders are concerned the charges will damage their business.
Margaret Wragg, of Going Potty, in North Parade, said: “Are people going to pay? I honestly don’t think so.
“The parking charges are going to put off the people who pop into Matlock Bath quickly and they might go elsewhere.”
However other business owners think the charges could be a good thing.
Richard Tucker, of The Chocolate Shop, in North Parade, said: “Personally I think everybody should pay to park.
“You get a lot of business owners who think it’s there right to park here, so they end up taking up spaces anyway.”
He said he hoped that whatever the council decided to do, they would enforce it properly.
It is estimated the installation of a pay and display parking control scheme would cost around £55,000, producing a turnover of £75,000 per year.
Matlock Bath Parish Council has worked with the county council for some time over the proposals.
In a statement, the parish council said: “We firstly carried out a written and on line survey of all people who live and work in the village and produced a report based on the responses.
“We have liaised closely with the county council and they took on board our suggestions including the short term (20 minute) free parking areas and the longer periods of parking.”
Issues flagged by residents include the parking bays on the riverside of Dale Road, which are often used for free by canoeists, and the concerns over whether the parking charges would force motorists up into the hills, using up residents’ parking spaces.
Cllr Garry Purdy, who represents Matlock Bath for the district council, said: “Parking charges in Matlock Bath have been discussed for many years.
“Some people are viewing it that we’re trying to frighten motorbikes away – that’s not the case.
“Motorcycles have to pay like all motorists.”
Cllr Purdy argued that the parking charges may actually improve trade, as tourists may be more inclined to stay for longer if they do not have to move their cars after an hour.
The report on the proposal was withdrawn at a recent cabinet meeting after the cabinet member for highways and transport, Simon Spencer, asked for further information.
(**turn from the front on page 15**)