Traders slow to stump up parking cash
A town council that stepped in to prevent controversial parking fees being imposed is facing a new battle to get traders to stump up cash. There was a public outcry in Harleston earlier this year when South Norfolk Council announced plans to introduce parking fees at its public car parks in the town, as part of a district-wide review.
A town council that stepped in to prevent controversial parking fees being imposed is facing a new battle to get traders to stump up cash.
There was a public outcry in Harleston earlier this year when South Norfolk Council announced plans to introduce parking fees at its public car parks in the town, as part of a district-wide review.
An action group was formed to fight the proposals - the main concern being the impact on local stores already facing an economic downturn, if shoppers decided to go elsewhere. And the town council eventually struck a deal with South Norfolk to lease the car parks to ensure that free parking continued.
In order to do this, the community has to find £20,000 annually which was to be provided on a 50-50 basis through the parish precept paid by residents in the parish of Harleston and Redenhall, and donations from traders.
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But there has been “disappointing” response from the business community, who were each asked to contribute £70. The current total stands at £4,000 which residents facing the prospect of making up the shortfall - adding to their annual council tax bill.
Town council chairman, Sue Kuzmic, said: “We have had a very good response from the surrounding villages. We didn't put them in our equation because we respected the fact that they didn't have to contribute, but a lot of them are supporting us. People see the real need for their residents to have free parking in Harleston.
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“But it has been really disappointing that only 30 per cent of businesses have contributed. We understand, because of the economic climate at the moment, we have had a high turnover of shops and that might be part of the reason. But some are saying it's because it's part of their business rates, and we don't get anything from that. So we are trying a little gentle persuasion.”
The town council will be handing out window stickers to firms that have donated to the free parking initiative, to encourage others to do their bit.
Mrs Kuzmic added: “There is still some ironing out of the lease, and we haven't signed anything yet. There are about 125 businesses in Harleston, we knew there might be a slight shortfall and hoped that the villages would contribute - which they have. It would be nice for the businesses to recognise people out there who use the shops and are supporting them, and want the shops to stay open.”