North Norfolk to see the end of car park evening charges but there are questions over funding
07:00 30 June 2014
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011
Evening charges in north Norfolk’s council-owned car parks are to be scrapped following a decision by North Norfolk District Council’s Conservative party.
The £1 charge, from 6pm to 11pm, has been in place for two years, but after a three month consultation period, the charge is to be dropped is a bid to boost tourism and increase trade.
The council’s Conservative party deputy leader Rhodri Oliver said extra grants and insurance pay outs had reduced the cost of December’s tidal surge to a little under £525,000, meaning the council had to spend less topping up its reserves for this year.
But independent district councillor Graham Jones said the party was not finding savings to replace the £110,000 funding gap the change would produce.
He said: “For the past two years I have been challenging the car parking charges imposed by the present administration because of the impact on local businesses and tourism.
“But they should not dispose of this income without making some provision about how where it should come from.
“There can’t be any good reason for doing it other than an election sweetener.”
Mr Jones highlighted the council’s upcoming budget deficit in the year 2014/16 of £500,000, and said the Conservative party had made no provisions to make up the £110,000 parking charge loss.
He said: “No business could possible remove £110,000 from its budget without first having identified the impact on the business – it would be a recipe for bankruptcy.
“Rhodri Oliver has consistently repeated his mantra that to remove the night charges and 50p charges would have a serious impact on the level of council tax.”
Mr Oliver, who is responsible for the council’s 26 pay-and-display car parks, said they were able to make the changes because the costs of the December tidal surge clear-up were substantially less than first estimated.
He said: “The decision was made after we got a better than expected settlement from the government.
“The election in 10 months away. If I wanted to do it as a political move I would do it as close to the election as possible.
“The key thing about this policy is that we are investing money in our tourism industry and business in order to protect the economy.”
Mr Oliver said the shortfall in the budget would be taken into account in the next council budget and a decision would be made on how to make up the deficit by the next administration through the council’s long-term strategy.
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