Concerns seafront car parking hike could hit Great Yarmouth tourism
- Credit: James Bass
Plans to hike car parking fees along Great Yarmouth seafront have sparked concern among businesses who fear the increase in costs could drive tourists away.
Town hall leaders have proposed to put up prices in six of the town's car parks in a bid to plug the £2m funding gap they are facing.
But the move has caused upset among some business owners and worried others that ultimately it will hit visitor numbers.
And while Yarmouth is facing an increase in fees, the cost of parking on Gorleston's High Street is set to fall, in a goodwill gesture aimed at boosting footfall.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council's (GYBC) cabinet has proposed the hikes, which would see the cost of spaces at St Nicholas and North Drive car parks rise from £3 to £4 for up to four hours and from £5 to £6 for over four hours.
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The cost of spaces at Euston Road, Anchor Gardens and Jetty North and South car parks would also go up from £1.50 to £1.80 for the first two hours, and from £2 to £2.30 for every hour after.
Tony Smith, who with his wife and son runs Sara's Tearooms in Pleasure Beach Gardens, said: 'From a business point of view the more car parking charges are, the more it has the potential to affect your business.
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'Clearly it can't have any positive effect. Every pound you spend in car parking is a pound that can't be spent in the businesses that are trading, they're just taking that away.'
Michael Papachristou, owner of Othello restaurant in Marine Parade, understood the council was in a difficult position financially but thought in the long term it would be 'detrimental' to his business.
'What we need is free parking and lots of it so you're making it more desirable to come to Great Yarmouth,' he added.
Peter Jay, owner of the Hippodrome Circus, did not object to long-stay parking charges going up but thought it was 'ridiculous' to increase the cost of short-stay, as visitors worried about constantly feeding a meter.
He thought more long stay parking was needed in the town. He said: 'The main thing is to get people to Yarmouth and stay for the day.'
In Gorleston, however the cost of parking in the High Street for the first two hours is set to drop from 50p to 20p - a move that was welcomed by Kevin Huggins, owner of Fusion Hair.
Mr Huggins, a member of Gorleston Traders Association, said: 'It's a step in the right direction for all traders and allows us to compete with free parking in retail parks.'
Trevor Wainwright, leader of GYBC, said the authority had to look at ways to generate revenue to protect frontline services, and it had carried out a 'bench marking' exercise to see how Yarmouth car park fees compared to similar resorts, and it was found to be cheaper than other areas.
He added that parking fees had not been put up since 2009, whereas other authorities had introduced annual hikes.
'It's difficult in this climate. Nobody wants to put up charges but in the financial situation we're in, we do have to look at our fees and charges,' he said.
A final decision over whether to go ahead with the hike, which is expected to raise £88,000 for the council, will be made at its meeting on Tuesday.