Drivers of large cars face parking fee hike

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Motorists in Norwich will pay for parking permits based on vehicle length after pioneering charges were given the green light.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Motorists in Norwich will pay for parking permits based on vehicle length after pioneering charges were given the green light.

Owners of small cars less than 3.92m long such as a Nissan Micra will continue to pay £16 a year. But under the changes permits for Medium cars such as a Ford Focus will pay £22 a year while vehicles longer than 4.45m such as a Range Rover will attract a £30 charge.

Meanwhile users of electric powered, gas, or hydro-fuelled vehicles will pay nothing.

Members of the Norwich Highways committee, made up of city and county councillors, approved the increases - the first in 14 years - on Thursday.

But there was no discount for diesel cars or vehicles using bio-fuels, after Green councillor Rupert Read raised concerns about the effect production has on rain forests.

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It is thought the changes will see a £100,000 boost in council coffers and any profits will be ploughed back into transport improvements in the city.

But the charges had sparked opposition among many residents and a council consultation showed 52pc of people were opposed compared to 35pc in favour and 13pc whose views were unclear.

Councillors voted 3 to 1 in support of the scheme.

Labour's Brenda Ferris, deputy leader of the city council said: “I think it's great. Norwich is a pioneer and we are forging ahead of the rest of the country.

Lid Dem councillor Judith Lubbock said the new charges were a “positive first step” to encourage people to switch to greener smaller cars.

But Tory county councillor Adrian Gunson opposed to the charges.

“It's totally unnecessary and discriminatory,” he said. “The consultation shows quite clearly that there is no public appetite for this and we should not ignore public opinion.”

But fellow Tory councillor and committee chairman Tony Adams supported the move and said the difference in charges was about 28p a week.

“It's not unreasonable to charge more for cars which take up more space,” he said. “I don't have a problem with that. We are not talking about large sums of money.”

The meeting also approved a hike in on street car parking charges which will see city centre tariffs rise by 40p to £1.60 an hour or 40p per 15 minutes. Further out the charges will go up 20p to 80p an hour or 20p per 15 minutes.

Safety improvements on Unthank Road, including 20mph sections, wider pavements, and a new zebra crossing were also approved as well as plan to remove a mini-roundabout and ban right turns into Barrack Street from Silver Road and into Silver Road from Barrack Street.

But there was no joy for residents seeking to cut traffic levels in Earlham Road as the committee opposed plans to remove a traffic island close to George Borrow Road and said the issue should be looked at as part of a wider review of traffic on the city's radial routes.

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