Attleborough councillors debate car park charge proposals
Proposals to introduce car parking fees in Breckland would be easier to swallow if drivers received reduced charges for shopping locally, said civic leaders in Attleborough.
The market town is one of five towns that could see the end of free parking under cost saving measures by Breckland Council. The district council has begun collecting the views of councillors, businesses and residents in Attleborough, Dereham, Swaffham, Thetford and Watton as part of a �25,000 feasibility study to explore the option of charging.
Concerns were raised about the proposals at an Attleborough Town Council meeting on Wednesday night. However, members opted to wait until a feasibility study is published and more concrete plans are put on the table before responding. Attleborough was the first town to be approached by Breckland Council as it gatherers views ahead of the study.
Samantha Taylor, mayor of Attleborough, said that if charges were introduced, they were keen to have more than one free hour parking because shoppers would be rushed for time.
'If parking fees do come in, we would want them to be free for as long as possible. If local businesses could sign up to a scheme to reimburse customers, that would encourage more people to come into town and shop, if businesses are prepared to support it. We feel that is a good system to get people into the town,' she said.
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Breckland Council, which is looking to save around �3.5m over the next five years, says car parks cost �350,000 a year to run. More than 10,000 people signed a petition, organised by Breckland's Labour group, against the idea earlier this year.
Tony Perkins, who also runs a butcher's shop in Attleborough, said they had called on the council to look at other neighbouring authorities to see how parking charges have worked and that fees in South Norfolk had been 'detrimental' to market towns.
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Karen Pettitt added that free parking was a big bonus for shoppers in the area
'If they are going to start charging and ultimately they will have to get the money from somewhere to maintain them, we must have two to three hours free parking and charging after that. A lot of the problems we have are with people parking and getting the bus to Norwich,' she said.