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Harleston to keep free parking after East of England Co-Operative offer a helping hand

PUBLISHED: 16:22 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:55 20 October 2017

Harleston. Picture: Bill Darnell

Harleston. Picture: Bill Darnell

A long-running saga over whether a town’s two car parks would be kept free to use has come to an end - thanks to a helping hand.

Harleston's high street. Picture: Bill DarnellHarleston's high street. Picture: Bill Darnell

The East of England Co-Operative has offered to fund a significant amount towards the annual cost of Harleston Town Council’s (HTC) lease for its Bullock Fair Close and Broad Street car parks.

Securing the free use of the car parks for the future.

It comes after HTC and South Norfolk Council (SNC) had been locked in negotiations over parking charges for 18 months.

The town council had been leasing the car parks from the district council at £17,156 each year.

However SNC wanted to introduce parking charges to bring Harleston in-line with Wymodnham and Diss, which have short and long stay car parks and charges.

MORE- Parking ticket machines will be installed in Harleston if no agreement is made by the end of the month

The town council, residents and businesses felt introducing fees could stop people from coming into the town.

However due to the contribution from the Co-Op, the TC are able to enter into a 10-year lease of £37,000 per-year with SNC.

Frances Bickley, chairman of HTC, said: “The town council is extremely grateful to the East of England Co-operative Society, who is generously contributing a significant amount towards the annual cost of the lease.

“If it were not for their involvement, we would not have been able to enter into this agreement without committing the council to over £600,000 costs over the life of the lease. The cost of the lease will increase annually, which Harleston Town Council will have to consider when setting the annual precept.”

Town councillors voted on Wednesday to draw up an agreement for the lease, which will also see the town council put £13,000 aside each year to pay for future maintenance and resurfacing work

Nick Denny, joint chief executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “We’ve been serving the community of Harleston for many years as a retailer and are pleased that a positive outcome has been reached for residents, visitors and local businesses alike.”

A spokesman for SNC said the authority “does not make a profit from car parking and the cost of the lease will simply cover the fixed costs”.

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