Call for drivers to choose if they pay to park at city parks
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Controversy over the potential introduction of charges for drivers to park in two Norwich parks has prompted a call for the payments to be voluntary.
Norwich City Council, facing a budget shortfall of nearly £2m, is considering introducing charges at popular Eaton Park and Waterloo Park.
City Hall says introducing such charges could raise £50,000 a year and help plug the funding gap.
But the idea has sparked opposition from people who fear it will lead to drivers parking in nearby residential streets.
The Friends of Waterloo Park put up posters urging people to respond to a now-closed consultation ahead of the council's budget setting meeting later this month.
And Green councillors have suggested that a possible solution could be to make the payments voluntary.
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Paul Neale, Green city councillor for Nelson ward, said: "While some of us are lucky enough to live next door to large green spaces, I know there are some parts of the city which are short of green space and parents who live there might need to drive their children to outdoor recreational areas.
"While I want to see fewer motor vehicles on the road, generally, I don't want to see these families penalised.
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"My solution is for meters to take voluntary parking charges so that people have a choice."
He said the money should be ring-fenced to improve access to green spaces.
Matthew Packer, Labour cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said a feasibility study would be done before any decision.
He said: "Before this proposal can be implemented, a feasibility study will need to be undertaken to determine how best to implement it as there are a range of factors to be considered.
"This Labour administration remains committed to doing all it can to continue to protect and invest in its parks and open spaces.”
He added: "Delivering a balanced budget in the face of inadequate government funding and the far-reaching effects – the increased costs and reduced income – of the Covid-19 pandemic, is more challenging than ever."
Of more than 900 people who responded to a poll about the possible parking charges on this newspaper's website, just over 770 said they did not want the charges.