Parking fee issue 'needs more study'

URGENT research should be carried out before any changes are made to the current policy regarding South Norfolk Council's car parks, protesters said today.

URGENT research should be carried out before any changes are made to the current policy regarding South Norfolk Council's car parks, protesters said today.

A 100-page report has been produced by the Harleston and District Car Parks Group, and distributed to members of South Norfolk's scrutiny committee which today debated controversial plans to extend and increase existing car parking fees.

If the proposals are adopted without any change, it would mean charges of up to £5 a day being levied at Harleston and Loddon - where parking is currently free - in addition to Diss and Wymondham which already has pay and display.

And there has been fierce opposition from Harleston residents and traders, who have collected thousands of signatures opposing the move - despite the council's offer to introduce free parking for the first hour at short-stay “shoppers” car parks.


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A spokesman for the Harleston group said “skilled volunteers” have worked flat out collating information for the document which includes reports from Newport, Shropshire, and Camelford in Cornwall, where car parking charges had to be removed because of the adverse impact.

The group stresses that each of the four south Norfolk towns is different with its own individual opportunities and problems.

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But the scrutiny committee voted against a suggestion that the authority's review of current car parking policy should be delayed for another year.

Committee chairman Christopher Kemp told the Mercury: “We didn't think that was fair and it was rejected by the committee on the basis that this matter has been going on for six months. We need to bring it to a conclusion sooner rather than later.”

The proposals include making parking free for the first hour at all short term “shoppers” car parks in the four towns. However this would be countered by a sizeable hike in current charging levels, with season tickets set to soar from £150 to £300 a year from October 2008, if the recommendations are approved.

Other suggested increases include: one-hour parking at long-stay car parks - up from 50p to £1; all-day up from £1.50 to £3. It would cost £5 to park for over four hours at short-stay car parks - currently £3. But the committee thinks the scale of charging may need revising.

The scrutiny committee also believes that charges should be levied using a “location by location approach” rather than simply across the board.

These and other recommendations will be considered by South Norfolk's Cabinet, which will debate the issue in April.

Harleston car parks group has called a public meeting at 7pm on Monday at the town's Apollo Rooms.

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