Traders in West Bay say they are suffering badly after parking soared from £2 a day to £15.
The little seaside community, where shops are mainly small independent traders, used to be a magnet for day trippers, who would stay all day, buying from the shops and taking their time at eateries.
Now, Dorset Council has hiked the rate by 750 per cent, to bring West Bay into line with other seaside towns.
Anna Powell, director of Sladers Yard, said: “The hike in parking fees has certainly affected the length of time people spend in West Bay.
“Too often, I hear people saying they would stay for lunch but their parking is about to run out. It is when people stay for lunch that they really enjoy Sladers Yard and quite often decide to buy a piece of artwork so this is doubly damaging for us.
“The additional change of putting so many spaces for camper vans in the prime short-stay carpark opposite Haddon House Hotel has also affected all the businesses on West Bay Road/George Street.
“These spaces are very often empty when there are nowhere left for cars to park in West Bay.”
Town clerk Will Austin said there’s still parking for £2 all day at Bridport Football Club, from where people can either walk to West Bay or take a bus.
He added: “West Bay is still an absolute ‘must’ as a day out in Dorset. As well as the beach, we offer stunning Jurassic Coast views, attractions like West Bay Discovery Centre/Customs House/children’s rides, fabulous eateries, events, independent shops, summer evening markets, boat trips, paddle boarding, rowing, fossil hunting, and a working harbour.
“If you’re stuck having to pay £15 for a day out in Dorset, West Bay brings together everything that other coastal areas – where you pay the same fee – can only offer in part. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind go anywhere else, when you also get the bonus of the best market town centre offer in the county (I’d argue the best in the UK!)?”
Various people have suggested that the extra money generated by parking should go towards improving the toilets in West Bay.
One said: “I doubt the council will reduce charges, but if they could advertise what the extra money is going towards then that may help. If there could be pressure to get them to allocate the money taken in West Bay to go back to West Bay then I think that would be so much better.
“If the council could promise to re-do the beach toilets with the extra money then I am sure some people will feel less angry about the parking. Surely the income generated by an area should go to improve that area.
“The public toilets by the beach are just embarrassing, especially from the view of a parent with a young family. They are just disgusting.”
Commenting on Facebook, one lady said: “I paid £4.50 to park just for a 90 minute health appointment last week. It does seem excruciatingly high.”
But another said: “These prices are nothing compared to places like Bournemouth or where I come from.”
Another pointed out the differences between West Bay and Bournemouth, saying: “All we have is a beach and food…”
Dorset Council were asked to comment.