“Money grabbing” and “unfriendly” Totnes has been accused of driving away visitors.
The Lee family from Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire turned up last week to spend some time “exploring Totnes”.
But the family left without stopping and have now condemned the town for being the “most visitor unfriendly” they had ever visited.
Mark Lee wrote in a critical letter to the Totnes Times: “Clearly Totnes either doesn’t need visitors or simply doesn’t care that it’s creating the impression of a town that’s a ‘no go’ area.”
Mr Lee’s beef was centred on the parking regime where the council- owned car parks are the main stopping point for most visitors.
His comments came as a flood of visitors had already started arriving, with Totnes bracing itself for the Easter weekend.
Mr Lee said: “We thought you’d be interested in our experience as visitors to Totnes today.
“We’re enjoying a family holiday in south Devon and thought we’d spend some time exploring Totnes.
“Regrettably, we were met with a most unfriendly welcome, arriving in a town that quite clearly does not welcome visitors.
“Our experience was of endless double yellow lines, swathes of signs stating ‘residents parking only’ and ‘private parking’, no free on-road parking and not one single car park that didn’t require us to cough up money. Needless to say, we were shocked and disappointed.
“Living close to Bath, we are used to money-grabbing local authorities, but Totnes well and truly takes the biscuit as the most visitor- unfriendly town or city we have probably ever visited.
“Even Bath has free on-road parking and our own home town – also a tourist attraction – prides itself in offering free parking to residents and visitors, recognising that this is a key factor in retaining the town as a thriving community where businesses can readily attract custom.”
He added: “So we didn’t stop, didn’t visit and decided to depend our money elsewhere.
“Arguably, the only losers were the businesses in the town who would have otherwise enjoyed our custom. We found a much more welcoming place to stop... and spent our money there instead. Devon is full of nice places and we had no trouble finding a suitable alternative.
“We won’t be returning and will be advising our family and friends to give your town a miss.”