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Council car parks will be free to boost shoppers

PUBLISHED: 11:44 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 08:58 01 August 2010

Adam Gretton

A Norfolk council has pledged to make its car parks free on two of the busiest shopping days of the year as part of a drive to reverse market town shop closures.

A Norfolk council has pledged to make its car parks free on two of the busiest shopping days of the year as part of a drive to reverse market town shop closures.

Fourteen parking areas across south Norfolk will be free on Saturday December 19 and on Christmas Eve to give a timely boost to traders and shoppers.

The “quick win” decision follows South Norfolk Council's first market towns task group meeting in Diss to identify and solve some of the problems facing the district's high streets.

The local authority's car parks in Wymondham, Diss, and Loddon, which introduced a new charging system last year, will be free on the two days leading up to Christmas to help bring shoppers into the market towns. Harleston's two car parks have already been made free all year by the town council.

It follows continuing frustration amongst retailers in Diss as the main road into the town - Victoria Road - is set to be closed from 6am on Christmas Eve as part of a Network Rail project to replace a rail bridge on the Norwich-London mainline.

Traders in Diss were urged to work together in order to turn around the fortunes of its high street during the first South Norfolk market towns task group workshop last week

Difficult access, poor signage, car parking charges, and high rents and rates were just some of the issues raised by businesspeople at the meeting. District and town councillors also called on shopkeepers to help themselves through the recession by forming their own Diss traders' association.

Jeremy Savage, chairman of the task group, said the district council could not throw vast sums of money at the problem, but could help promote what Diss had to offer.

“Diss is the gateway to the Waveney Valley and it has an almost world-renowned auction room, which brings people every Friday to Diss. We need to look at ways of bringing them into the town centre.”

He told traders: “The leadership has to come from the community of Diss. It is your ideas that will spark something off.”

Ideas such as a loyalty card, more shops opening on a Sunday, dedicated parking on the outskirts of town for traders, and a Diss town manager were raised by businesses.

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