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North Norfolk traders’ mixed reaction to free Sunday Christmas parking

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 November 2012

Holt lit up on a previous Christmas. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Holt lit up on a previous Christmas. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant 2011

Traders have reacted with a mixture of delight and disappointment to the Sunday free car parking on offer to next month’s shoppers in north Norfolk.

While Holt shopkeepers are full of Christmas cheer at the North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) announcement, traders in North Walsham, Sheringham and Cromer would like the festive freebie switched to Saturdays.

Motorists will be able to park free for up to three hours in all NNDC car parks on the four December Sundays leading up to Christmas.

Monday’s surprise NNDC cabinet decision followed an email request the previous day from Holt Chamber of Trade.

“We hadn’t planned to do anything but we were able to react quickly to their request. We hope it will create extra business for traders across the district and that they will take advantage of it – if they don’t already open on Sundays – by opening their doors,” said council leader Keith Johnson.

The three-hour limit was aimed at deterring motorists from parking all day in Cromer, Sheringham or North Walsham and taking the train to shop in Norwich.

Holt chamber chairman John Lintott said members were “absolutely delighted” at the swift granting of their plea. They had previously agreed that as many businesses as possible would open on Sundays in December, including the town’s main store, Bakers and Larners.

He added: “The build up to Christmas is incredibly important to us. This gives us a chance to make the most of those extra shopping days.”

But elsewhere traders’ leaders have all said Saturday free parking would have been more helpful.

Andy Bullen, secretary of Sheringham Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said Saturdays were their main shopping days.

Borrowing the catchphrase of Tesco, due to open in the town next year, he added: “Every little helps I suppose. It’s better than nothing and in the modern competitive world, you can’t not open when others are.”

Mr Johnson said NNDC was talking to Sheringham Town Council about staging four special Christmas Sunday markets to help boost trade further.

Mair Stockdale, chairman of North Walsham Chamber of Trade, said the town did not have the same “ambience” as Holt.

Customers were unlikely to flock to North Walsham on a Sunday in the sort of large numbers which would make it worthwhile for small businesses which would have to open their doors specially, involving extra staffing and overheads costs.

At Cromer, chamber president Peter Stibbons said any free parking was welcome but traders would have preferred Saturdays. They would like NNDC to grant free parking throughout the weekend of Cromer’s Christmas Fair, from November 30-December 2.

● A plea was made at Monday’s Cromer Town Council for free parking at the Meadow car park for the town’s fireworks on New Year’s Day. NNDC member John Lee has promised to provide a written answer.

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