December 7 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 19, 2013
A bid to charge for parking in Hunstanton has been ditched after a majority voted against the plan.
After a vigorous campaign against the proposal, 55.8pc of townsfolk who voted said they would not support pay and display charges, whereas 58pc declared themselves against a residents’ permit scheme. The turnout was 41.8pc.
Sandy Duff-Dick, owner of the town’s Rosamaly Guest House, organised petitions against the move and hailed the vote a victory, saying: “I think everyone will be very, very happy about it. Our hard work has paid off.”
Richard Bird, the area’s county councillor, said the result meant the issue “is dead in the water” – but said there were “lessons to be learned” after a democratic process became a hotbed for public anger.
“I think the council could have sold the benefits much better,” he said. “I also feel a lot of people were jumping before they were bitten.
“If they had asked the rules of the game, perhaps the protests wouldn’t have been quite so vehement.”
The suggestion that some people might have to pay £40 per year for parking was made after a survey earlier in the year showed strong support for action over the issue, which can become a problem during the busy summer holiday season.
Even so, the plan required more than 50pc to vote in favour in a Hunstanton-wide poll which closed on September 15.
Even if it had passed that threshold, each road needed a 74pc approval rating for individual parking plans to be put in place. If not enough streets backed it, the whole proposal would have been ditched.
Yet despite Mr Bird’s reassurance that he would “make it my personal business for this process to be completely transparent, the most democratic it can be”, some residents launched a full-scale campaign.
Residents including Mrs Duff-Dick went round with petitions urging people to oppose the move.
The issue came to a head when residents waved placards and posters outside Hunstanton Town Hall on Monday last week, where a consultation into the plans held by Norfolk County Council was taking place.
Mrs Duff-Dick said: “It would have totally changed and urbanised the place.
“It would have become just like London and it would have put a lot of people under financial pressure.
“Visitors were saying that on Sundays they might as well go home if they had to pay to park. It would have deterred people from coming to Hunstanton.”
Mr Bird said second-home owners from London had also been making their views heard. “I always wanted to have as democratic a result as we could possibly have,” he said.