DEVON County Council’s proposal to introduce on-street parking meters in a number of Devon market towns, including Crediton, contradicts the whole ethos of market towns, the opportunity of those who live in these towns and those living nearby to park and shop and the ability of excellent independent shops to survive.

A number of years ago my previous firm sponsored a national competition in “Country Life” magazine to find the best market town in the country.

The country was divided into areas and readers were asked to vote for their favourite market town and give reasons for their choice.

Judges were appointed for each area including Penelope Keith for the South East, Ben Fogle for the Midlands, John Selwyn Gummer for East Anglia and Noel Edmonds, who at the time lived near Okehampton, for the South West.

I spent two most interesting days driving Noel around the three shortlisted South West market towns of Tavistock, Sherborne and Marlborough. 

As soon as we drove in to Marlborough Noel decided that it was the winner for the South West region.

His reason was that the wide open High Street enabled those who lived nearby to drive in, park and use all the facilities of the town.

The regional winners were then all considered by the panel of judges and Hexham in Northumberland emerged as the eventual winner.

I have today spoken to the Tourist Information Office in Hexham who told me that in Hexham you buy a parking disc for £1 and then you can park for free in any of the car parks for one, two, three hours or all day without any further payment. What an excellent idea!

Devon County Council should learn from Hexham where I am told that there is still a preponderance of independent shops and not many charity shops and nail bars as in so many of our Devon market towns in 2024.

Robin Thomas

East Raddon