Torbay Council staff parking criticised

Torbay car park permit
Image caption Staff who abuse the permits face fines

Permits giving about 1,300 Torbay Council staff free parking have been criticised.

Criticisms included a £510 cost to the public of buying such a permit when council budgets were under pressure.

The council said staff could only use the permits in some car parks when they were working and if abused they would be fined and lose the permit.

The number of permits issued came to light after a Freedom of Information request by a member of the public.

'Fantastic perk'

A number of residents and representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses have voiced their opposition to the measure.

Mark Hamilton, who runs a health food shop in Paignton, said the free permits were "a fantastic perk".

He said: "I wish I could afford to give my staff £510 parking vouchers for the year, just like that.

"Councils are always saying how tight they are with money and what they spend. This should be possibly re-evalued."

The Conservative-run authority said it was examining options for charging staff for permits in the future.

Trade unions representing council staff, including Unison, said they were balloting their members on the staff-charging issue.

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