A businessman is the toast of his coastal village after taking over a council-run car park – and making it completely FREE.
Generous Rob Braddick, 44, has just acquired a long lease on the Seafield Car Park in the popular Devon seaside resort of Westward Ho!.
And as soon as the kind-hearted father-of-two completed the deal on Tuesday afternoon he instantly scrapped all charges.
Rob, whose family have run Braddicks Leisure Ltd in the village for nearly 70 years, said the car park was in a field that his granddad previously owned but was compulsory purchased in 1965.
It was turned into a council-run car park for around 20 vehicles 15 years ago and until this week charged visitors a day rate of £3.
Rob, who owns several bars, restaurants and holidays centres, said he now hopes that it will be used for the public to enjoy the picturesque coastal walk and provide a boost to local traders.
He said: “I am thrilled to complete the deal. We have been in business here for around 70 years as a family and we just wanted to give a little something back.
“I live in Westward Ho! and my business is also very close to the car park.
“Parking is an issue here, as it is everywhere, and there is no other free car parking close by.
“People can use it to visit the local businesses and go on the coastal walk.
“It is a brilliant place to park and explore the coast. It is the last one before you go on the coastal walk so is popular with dog walkers.”
Rob, who declined to comment on how much he paid for the lease, said he first approached Torridge District Council several months ago but only finalised the deal at 4pm on Tuesday.
He now hopes to extend the car park.
He said: “I approached the council as I thought it would be nice to buy it and give something back to the community.
“It is a stunning seaview car park. It is quite small and only has space for about 20 cars.
“At the moment we are hoping to take over a bit more land to extend it by a third – it will still all be free though.”
Rob, who lives in Westward Ho! with wife Vikki and their two children George 10 and Ellie, 13, said: “I have to say the council were very good to deal with.
“You always hear people complaining about the cost of parking in this field.
“There is never enough parking and certainly this is the only free parking in the area. It is ideal for walking around the cliff.
“I have had a fantastic response from people. We have probably had 500 complaints on facebook and all of them have been positive.
“People have been saying what a nice thing it was for us to do and it is great to hear.”
Rob announced the sale with a post on facebook that read: “With immediate effect I am making it FREE, yes FREE, for the community and the public to use.
“Please do park up and stroll over to The Pier House for a coffee or a cold pint (not free!). Enjoy.”
Several residents in the town were quick to praise Rob’s actions.
Commenting on facebook, Clive Francis said: “That’s how a business should treat a community. Well done from all of us visitors to your lovely village.”
Louise Hearn added: “That’s great and such a lovely thing to do for everyone…thank you.”
Sue Piercy added: “Well done that man. Thank you and I hope it brings you much custom.”