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Calls for council to take over car parks

PUBLISHED: 15:23 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:01 21 May 2010

THERE were calls this week for town councils to be given the opportunity to take over the running of public car parks as South Norfolk Council heard concerns about the impact if parking charges are introduced at Harleston and Loddon.

THERE were calls this week for town councils to be given the opportunity to take over the running of public car parks as South Norfolk Council heard concerns about the impact if parking charges are introduced at Harleston and Loddon.

The authority's scrutiny committee was gathering evidence from representatives from the two communities, as well as delegates from Diss and Wymondham - currently the only places in the district where car parking fees are levied.

Although the idea of one hour's free parking being introduced across the district's short-term shoppers' car parks was mooted, this did not allay fears that Harleston and Loddon would be hard hit if motorists have to pay.

Councillor Colin Gould said: “Loddon is the only town within south Norfolk which is on the Broads and that's a big plus. We are looking to bring tourists into the area and we are going to say if you come to this lovely town you have to pay this extra fee.

“There appears to be no study done by this council to ascertain the likely impact of charging on businesses.”

At Harleston, more than 5,500 people signed a protest petition opposing any move to bring in fees.

John Gibbons, of the Save Harleston Group, said there was a real concern that any changes in the current parking policy would affect the wellbeing of the town. However, it was pointed out that a survey of shopping trends submitted by the Harleston contingent showed that 75 per cent of people visiting at peak times stayed for less than an hour.

Diss representative Tony Palmer said the town council was keen to see parity across the district. And if parking wasn't going to be free, then South Norfolk should consid-er handing over responsibility for the car parks to town councils.

The committee also heard evidence from Wymondham councillors that the imposition of parking fees had not affected the viability of local shops.

But Martin Wynne added: “We think that there should be some kind of fairness and parity across the district but not necessarily the same for all towns. I don't see why Diss and Wymondham should help to pay for free parking in other parts of the district.”

It was also suggested that carrying out a car park review was premature, and should be deferred until after the district council takes over responsibility for enforcing on-street parking restrictions later this year.

The scrutiny committee's recommendations will be considered by South Norfolk's Cabinet in April, with the full council making the final decision about future car parking policy in May.

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