Cabinet will be asked to approve new changes that will allow Manor Pavilion car park to become a much needed pay and display facility

Cabinet members will meet on 5 April 2017 to decide on whether Manor Pavilion Theatre’s car park should become a pay and display facility, which will be open to the public and not restricted to users of the theatre.

The proposed charges are in response to a pressing need to find ways of supporting the theatre, whose running costs have increased year on year, making it more and more expensive to operate. It has become clear that management of the car park needs to be brought under control, particularly as its free use is being taken unfair advantage of by non-theatre goers.

Revenue generated from the car parking would be reinvested in the work of the Manor Pavilion Theatre, helping support ongoing improvements to the theatre, including an online ticketing system.

As outlined in the report to Cabinet, the pay and display tariff allows for a maximum stay of three hours, between 8am to 8pm on any day, at a cost of £1 per hour. As most evening shows start at 7.30-7.45pm, this means that anyone using the car park for the purpose of going to the theatre, would incur an additional £1 to the cost of their evening. There would, however, be no worry about having to leave a performance half way through to move a vehicle.

For theatre hirers, there would be a separate entrance/exit to enable them to bring stage sets in and out. This will form part of a planned segregated parking area for theatre use only, allowing room for vans to turn and park next to the theatre for ease of unloading, and where theatre staff will be able to park. This zone and its entrance/exit will be completely separate from the main 21 space pay and display car park.

Obviously, there are insufficient parking spaces in the main Manor Pavilion car park for an entire theatre audience of 277, so many choose to walk to the theatre or park either on the street nearby or in the Manor Road long stay car park, a short distance away. It is therefore recognised that to open the car park as a public pay and display is the best means of maximising income, and helping Manor Pavilion to continue to offer superb entertainment, while providing much needed additional parking for Sidmouth.

It is proposed that the council’s Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) will operate a ten minute period of grace, to allow users time to purchase their tickets from the box office, or to drop off people using the theatre.

Councillor John O’ Leary, East Devon District Council’s lead councillor for culture, said:

As a council we are proud to be able to continue supporting discretionary areas, such as the arts, parks, countryside and leisure. We know that our residents and communities, as well as visitors gain great enjoyment from the events and exhibitions put on by Manor Pavilion and Thelma Hulbert. They have an important role to play in the district, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to support them financially and we have to become more commercial if we are to remain committed to their financial sustainability. 

While I appreciate that not everyone will be happy with a pay and display car park at Manor Pavilion theatre, we do not believe it will disrupt the everyday use of the theatre. Anyone wanting to buy tickets at the box office will be allowed a ten minute “grace” period before the Civil Enforcement Officers take any action. There is all day blue badge parking on Manor Road opposite the theatre and there is long stay parking available only five minutes away from the theatre. The creation of this pay and display car park will also help alleviate the chronic lack of public parking that Sidmouth suffers from and so will be good for shoppers as well as local businesses in the town.