Car parking charges 'have helped towns'

The introduction of controversial car parking charges across south Norfolk has 'assisted' the district's market towns, council officials said yesterday.

The introduction of controversial car parking charges across south Norfolk has 'assisted' the district's market towns, council officials said yesterday.

New pay and display fees across public car parks in the district caused a furore 12 months ago, with some town leaders fearing the worst for local traders and tourism.

But leaders at South Norfolk Council yesterday hailed the impact of the system, which allows shoppers at least one hour of free parking.

It comes after the district council received more than �250,000 last year from charging at 13 car parks in Diss, Wymondham, and Loddon. However, officers stressed that the council was not profiting from its pay and display scheme and was only breaking even after fresh investment to its sites.

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Members of the authority's scrutiny committee recommended that the parking charges should remain as they are, despite a request from Diss Town Council for the first two hours to be free or lower hourly charges.

The review comes a year after Harleston Town Council adopted South Norfolk's sites in Broad Street and Bullock Fair Close at a cost of �20,000 a year to save the town from parking charges.

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A report to councillors yesterday said that town leaders in Diss were concerned that the introduction of the scheme had led to more on-street parking problems. Parish councils in Wymondham, Harleston and Loddon appeared 'content' with the system, said Chris Tubby, the council's car parking manager.

'It is a case of consistency across the district rather than penalising one town. One hour free parking to all the paid car parks enables customers to go in and do a degree of shopping and get out without incurring any charges. It is a fair system and has assisted the market towns,' he told councillors.

Scrutiny members recommended no changes to the pay and display system after it emerged that South Norfolk Council had only received 20 complaints from the public and no formal objections from local traders over the last year.

The discussion comes a week after Breckland Council revealed that it was reviewing car parking in Attleborough after a request from the town council

David Bills, portfolio holder for environment and health at South Norfolk Council, said: 'It was something of a problem area last year and I am pleased with what has taken place. It is also interesting that Attleborough is looking into a parking system which we have in Wymondham, which is a tick in the box for South Norfolk,' he said.

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