Revised Improvement Works - Exford Car Park - August 23 Update

Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact us about our proposals for Exford car park. It’s clear the site is highly valued by local people and visitors from further afield.

We must emphasise this was not an easy decision to propose parking charges. However, with our financial pressures and the government funding situation as it is, we must act to continue providing the range of services we offer. This includes maintenance of footpaths and bridleways, providing facilities such as car parks and toilets, and carrying out conservation and education work across the National Park. The alternative is to begin closing facilities and cutting back further on services which we know are valued by local people, visitors and businesses. This would impact on people’s ability to enjoy the National Park, including those on low incomes.  We are looking at many cost-saving measures and new income opportunities across all our activities but if we are to continue our work to care for Exmoor and help people enjoy it responsibly, we must rely less on core government funding.

We will continue to introduce a car park charging scheme for Exford, but we have listened to your comments over a considerable consultation period and will be delivering some changes to our original proposals.

Changes to Exford Car Park

  • We will increase the free stay period to 45 mins.
  • We will only charge from the hours of 10am until 6pm to allow greater opportunities for local people and others to enjoy charge-free parking.
  • To assist those with financial difficulties we will offer our annual parking pass at a 50% discounted rate to those who qualify for certain means tested government financial support (so available at a cost of £30 per year).
  • We have removed the proposal for benches, but we will discuss a trial of two disabled access picnic benches for the picnic area near the river with the Parish Council
  • We have adjusted the central marked bays to remove one space and make more room for large vehicles to turn around.

The 45 min non-charge period will allow people to park and use local businesses and shops and we hope this will allay any concerns about this issue.

We will liaise carefully with neighbours of the site and the school to ensure their needs are accommodated fairly.

The electric vehicle charge points are not expected to make any noise and are sited close to the ENPA depot buildings to reduce the cost of getting high voltage power to them.

We will improve the roadside sign for the car park – which is currently confusing.

These proposals are consistent with the Local Plan and ENPA planning policy.

Clarification on Frequently asked Questions from the consultation:

  • Payment machines will accept cash and contactless card payments. We do not intend to use a smartphone app system such as Ringo.
  • Everyone will be expected to pay to park but rates will be the same regardless of size of vehicle.
  • We do not intend to allow overnight stays for camper vans, and we will take action to tackle the issue of equipment and cars being left in the car park for long periods.
  • We will allow free parking for blue badge holders.

We monitor compliance with car park payments through regular visits from our staff who are often on site for other reasons, so this will not create significant additional cost for us. We find that most people are happy to contribute to a service they enjoy. We expect to raise a worthwhile sum from the charging system and any initial outlay for the parking machine and signage should be covered within a year.

The other proposed changes are in keeping with the existing character of the car park and are not high cost. These repairs and improvements are things the Authority wants to carry out to ensure the car park provides a high-quality experience and are not directly related to the charging proposal.

We recognise concerns that the new scheme may encourage some people to park in less suitable locations but by providing a range of affordable options to pay, along with convenient free periods we hope this will be minimal.

The works and changes will be implemented over the coming months, as capacity allows.

You can view our original proposals for Exford Car Park here