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New Harleston parking row erupts

PUBLISHED: 11:13 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:28 12 July 2010

A row has broken out over a planned meeting with community leaders to debate controversial car parking charges proposed for Harleston.

John Wright, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses urged South Norfolk councillors to meet with local traders and residents to discuss the issue when he visited the town last week to pledge support to campaigners fighting the plan.

A row has broken out over a planned meeting with community leaders to debate controversial car parking charges proposed for Harleston.

John Wright, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses urged South Norfolk councillors to meet with local traders and residents to discuss the issue when he visited the town last week to pledge support to campaigners fighting the plan.

However, an implication that the district council is dragging its heels has incensed the authority's leader John Fuller.

He said representatives from Harleston have already been involved in public debate with South Norfolk Council on numerous occasions about the proposals - which include the offer of at least one hour free parking at short stay “shoppers car parks.

And he claimed that the authority's attempts to hold further talks with representatives from Harleston have been rejected - in stark contrast to Loddon where negotiations with the town council have resulted in an upgrade to two hours free parking if charges are introduced.

“We have made repeated attempts over 10 weeks to get someone able to negotiate from Harleston to come to the table which so far have proved fruitless. We have been given the run around and the town council is not representing the people in the town,” Mr Fuller said.

“Last December we suggested that the free second hour could be tied in with a shop local scheme and again the silence has been deafening. They (the town council) hasn't even been able to meet us to discuss the best time to do the resurfacing of the car parks and where they would like the lights to go, and the new recycling centre.”

He called on the town council to “get its act together” and arrange a meeting with South Norfolk, otherwise Harleston would “miss the boat”.

However, the group's chairman chairman Lynne Aldred said Mr Fuller seemed to view town councillors as “people who need their heads knocked together”.

She explained that she had rejected an invitation in March to meet with Mr Fuller and Andy Radford, the authority's head of finance and property services, because they insisted all discussions must remain confidential.

“It was to be a two way dialogue and to me that meant I couldn't tell the whole council or residents of the town, but the doors are not closed.”

A special meeting of the town council was due to take place last yesterday to thrash out any way forward.

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