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‘They’re killing the town’: Councillor quits over parking policy

PUBLISHED: 16:53 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:53 09 July 2020

I was elected to support the people of Beccles, and the actions of the town council over the past weeks do not do this, Norman Brooks said. Photo: Archant

I was elected to support the people of Beccles, and the actions of the town council over the past weeks do not do this, Norman Brooks said. Photo: Archant

Archant

A town councillor has resigned following a council’s decision to introduce a no-parking policy.

Norman Brooks (second from right), said he was concerned that party politics is rearing its head into local democracy.Norman Brooks (second from right), said he was concerned that party politics is rearing its head into local democracy." Photo: Nick Butcher

Norman Brooks, who was a councillor for the Darby Ward of Beccles, handed in his resignation on Wednesday, July 8, after criticising Beccles Town Council for allegedly “barging ahead” with pedestrianisation of the town centre without “taking any notice of traders.”

Mr Brooks said his resignation has “been a while coming” but “it has been more critical over the last few weeks”.

“I was elected to support the people of Beccles, and the actions of the town council over the past weeks do not do this,” he said.

The former town councillor, who will remain a cabinet member for transport on East Suffolk Council, said he was in opposition “from the outset” to a no-parking policy introduced on June 15 on New Market, Blyburgate and Hungate.

READ MORE: On-street parking back as council makes pedestrianisation U-Turn

The policy which hoped to allow for social distancing has since been rolled back after 24 retailers signed a letter in opposition.

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“The initial decision was completely over the top,” Mr Brooks claimed. “By closing off that area of the town, and shutting off parking, the effect has been detrimental on independent retailers’ trade.”

He added: “The council didn’t want to listen or take any notice of traders, and they’re the ones councillors should help. They’re going to kill the town and kill the trade.

“Without traders everything closes and we lose the town centre - we lose revenue, jobs, the beautiful volume of shops and the injection of cash from visitors.

“[The council] don’t want to be seen to be taking a u-turn, they’ve said they are doing for this decision and stuck with it. That’s wrong. There is no shame in rethinking the experimental traffic order which could kill the town in six months.”

READ MORE: Cars banned from town centre streets as shops reopen

Condemning an apparent culture of “councillors being influenced by others from outside the council” as well as “party politics rearing its head into local democracy”, Mr Brooks added: “The council now has a culture whereby little is discussed and debated thoroughly.”

Beccles mayor Ashley Lever said Norman Brooks “would be sorely missed” as someone who has been “a very valuable contribution to Beccles.”

The mayor added: “Norman had every right to vote how he feels, but it is a shame to lose him as he was an excellent councillor who has been on the council for many years.

“However, we did consult with businesses before we made our decision and we will continue to do so as we move on. I appreciate Norman wasn’t in favour of the decision but it was voted through democratically.”


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