Call for free car parking in King's Lynn rejected at council meeting

The discussion was held at a Thursday meeting of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk

The discussion was held at a Thursday meeting of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

A call for free parking in King’s Lynn was rejected at a meeting of the borough council, despite retailers saying it would bring “a real boost”.

At the meeting on Thursday afternoon, independent councillor Alun ‘Tom’ Ryves asked the Conservative cabinet member for business Graham Middleton whether the council would “show some leadership and support retail”. 

“In the last council meeting I enquired about the possibility of some sort of free parking or supportive parking for the retail heart of King’s Lynn,” said Mr Ryves.

Save the Blue Bell campaigners joined together to celebrate a grant which will go towards helping th

The question about free parking was posed by Councillor Alun 'Tom' Ryves, at a Thursday borough council meeting. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

“I was told that this would compromise the ability of this council to support weekend events.

“I’ve subsequently spoken with a number of other councils and I’ve looked at quite a large number of surveys and these all seem to indicate that retailers absolutely worship the idea of free parking, just for specific times in the year, Christmas being one of them.”

Mr Middleton, a board member of Lynn’s Business Improvement District (BID), said: “The financial affairs of other councils and how they choose to fund different things that they do is entirely up to them.”

Graham Middleton, Conservative candidate for Gayton and Nar Valley. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Cabinet member for business Graham Middleton, who also serves as the council's deputy leader, said free parking did not have the desired effect when tried previously in the town. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

He said the BID tried introducing free parking at the Baker Lane car park during the Christmas shopping period three years ago.

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“What happened in that instance is that by half past eight in the morning, everybody who works in the town took up the spaces,” said Mr Middleton.

He added that income from car park charges enabled the council to put on several free events for people to enjoy.

But Bernadette Chapel, manager at The Deck of Cards greeting cards shop on the High Street, disagreed with Mr Middleton. 

Staff members at The Deck of Cards shop on the High Street, with Bernadette Chapel on the far right. 

Staff members at The Deck of Cards shop on the High Street, with Bernadette Chapel on the far right. - Credit: The Deck of Cards

“Free parking would be a real boost for our shop,” she said.

“They haven’t got to do busy days like Fridays or Saturdays - just a Wednesday or a Thursday, even doing an afternoon would help.”

She added: “The problem is we haven’t got an even playing field. Us in King’s Lynn against all those new shops on the outskirts. They’ve all got free parking. They’ve got to do something to help the town.”

The Majestic Cinema, in King's Lynn.

The Majestic Cinema, in King's Lynn. - Credit: Chris Bishop

Joseph Marsh, co-manager of the town’s Majestic Cinema, said his business was less affected by the issue, but added: “Of course, especially with the high street struggling, more free parking would only encourage people to come in.”