Whitlingham is still popular despite parking problems, figures reveal

Whitlingham visitors centre and car park where some users have been issued penalty fines by Parking

Whitlingham visitors centre and car park where some users have been issued penalty fines by Parking Eye who enforce parking restrictions. Photo: Steve Adams

Visitors to a Norfolk beauty spot have not been put off this summer despite an ongoing parking fiasco.

More than 1,000 people have been hit with a ticket after parking at Whitlingham County Park, near Trowse.

Private company Parking Eye monitors drivers as they enter and leave the space and charges a £60 fine or £100 if they overstay.

In the last year the private firm made £90,000 from fines – with the Trust which manages the broad making £100,000, used to maintain it.

But despite a catalogue of complaints about the unfairness of the system – with many threatening to never visit the park again – visitor numbers have not been affected this season.

In June and July last year there were 47,155 people through the doors of the flint barn visitor centre.

But this year that number has jumped to 58,628 and Broads Authority bosses, who manage the park, insist they have weathered the parking storm.

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John Organ, head of governance at the Broads Authority said: 'The figures show there is no identifiable drop in numbers as some may try to predict.

'The weather is obviously the largest factor influencing visitor numbers, with warm sunny days leaving the park exceptionally well used.'

He also said the park had listened to visitors' concerns and will soon have clearer signs put up about the way the parking fines work.

Many do not realise that when arriving and leaving the car park, the CCTV cameras clock them between 8am and 8pm. Plans for aound the clock monitoring have been pulled.

Drivers need to enter their registration plate and if the machines are broken, they are advised to go in to the barn.

If people find they are staying longer than they paid for, there is a retrospective system to top-up via text message, on the phone, at the barn or at other machines.

The pay machines have also been targeted by thieves and vandals, taking up to £3,000 in cash.

That money would have gone back into looking after the broad, and although the cash is covered by insurance, it only goes up to £500, exceeding some of the thefts.

Now the machines will be emptied every night which the park hopes will deter criminals.

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