Controversial plans to introduce on-street parking charges in Dartmouth and Salcombe appear to have been dropped.

Devon County Council has decided “not to proceed” with the proposals, which would have also seen parking charges introduced in six other Devon towns.

The council’s cabinet was to discuss the proposal at its meeting at County Hall in Exeter on Thursday, March 13, but will not now happen.

South Hams district councillor for Dartmouth, Councillor Jonathan Hawkins said: “We fought it off!”

He added: “I’m absolutely delighted. All the hard work has paid off, especially from Town Councillor Teddy Cranmer.”

Mr Cranmer led a campaign in Royal Avenue Gardens supported by Dartmouth Town Council to gather over 3,000 signed petitions against the proposal and then both Teddy and Councillor Hawkins delivered the petitions to County Hall in December.

Dartmouth Town Council voted unanimously against the parking proposal from DCC in October last year and agreed to send both a joint letter from the identified towns and an individual letter expressing how the Town Council was against these proposals.

The Mayor of Dartmouth, Cllr David Wells, previously expressed support for the community’s efforts, emphasizing the importance of citizen engagement in local governance.

“The proposed on-street parking payment system could have significant impacts on our community,” stated Cllr Wells. “It is heartening to see residents coming together to oppose measures that could adversely affect our town.”

There was to be a sizeable protest at county hall next week.

County and District councillor Hawkins offered to provide a vintage double-decker bus to ferry concerned citizens to County Hall and back, so that their voices could be heard.

Devon County Council identified eight towns where the charges could be implemented.

Announcing the plans it said Pay & Display parking was already widely used, both across Devon and nationally, with well-established schemes in communities such as Bideford, Barnstaple, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Exmouth and Exeter.

It wanted to add Dartmouth, Salcombe, Braunton, Crediton, Honiton, Okehampton, Sidmouth and Tavistock to the scheme.

In Tavistock and Okehampton more than 6,000 people signed a petition against the meters and both town councils and West Devon Borough Council backed the communities in their concerns.

The council said managing parking in this way would “help reduce congestion and encourage the turn-over of vehicles and availability of parking spaces, particularly in busy town centres, thereby helping to support the local economy and the use of local shops and businesses.”

Following discussions with local members and community representatives, the proposals also include one-hour free parking in the new Pay & Display spaces in all eight communities.

The decision not to proceed with the scheme will still need to be ratified by its Cabinet next week - leaving open the possibility of inviting proposals from individual communities on how they might wish to address parking issues locally.

The new parking proposals were revealed at the end of last year, and the county council held a “consultation” exercise to seek opinions.

At the time Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said:

“I understand there may be concerns about Pay & Display, and that is why we have talked to local groups and elected members to ensure that the first hour parking is free.

“Pay & Display has been in place in many communities in Devon for some years and we believe it is one of the components that is needed to ensure a healthy high street and community.

“It encourages turnover of parking spaces thereby increasing the availability of town centre parking in busy areas and it reduces congestion.”