Camera removal raises hopes over parking rethink for Norwich shopping centre
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
Campaigners trying to stop customers at a Norwich shopping centre being charged for parking are hoping the removal of a camera and power equipment is a significant step in their fight.
Parking and its enforcement has long been a bone of contention at Earlham House shopping centre.
Traders claimed customers were being fined if their tyres touched the white lines of parking spaces or if they stopped briefly to drop off items.
Bellgold Properties used to own both the buildings and the car park at the complex, which is off Earlham Road.
But earlier this year, it sold the freehold of the shops and flats to Castelnau, while keeping the car park.
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And Bellgold Properties announced they intended to bring in a £1-a-day flat fee for people to park there - to the dismay of shopkeepers.
However, those charges have yet to be introduced and last week, a camera and power equipment which were being used to enforce existing restrictions - along with two new cameras intended to monitor the proposed charges - were taken down.
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Denise Carlo, Green city councillor for Nelson ward contacted Inspire, who manage Earlham House.
She said they confirmed that Castelnau. who own the freehold of Earlham House, had secured removal of the power cables for the cameras.
Ms Carlo said: 'This is excellent news and a big step forward in the battle to stop shoppers being charged for parking when visiting Earlham House.
'However, drivers should continue to take care when parking at Earlham House as there is a chance that National Parking Enforcement Ltd, the private parking company employed by Bellgold, could employ parking wardens to patrol the car park instead.'
Earlham House Post Office, which launched a Crowdfunding campaign to pay for legal support in the trader's fight against the parking charge plans has now raised £2,770.
Ms Carlo said: 'Bellgold's threat of parking charges has caused a great deal of unwarranted anxiety for the traders.
'If the legal opinion confirms free parking at Earlham House for businesses and their customers, the value of the car park land to Bellgold will be practically worthless.
'They should do the decent thing and sell the car park to the Earlham House freeholder.'