Free evening parking continues at Hunstanton, as car park charges are frozen in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk

Evening parking will remain free at Hunstanton - as the chairman of the resort's chamber of trade said the move 'saved the season' for businesses in the town.

Parking charges across the rest of West Norfolk will also stay as they are for at least six months.

Councillors have agreed to freeze prices to help hard-pressed traders in Hunstanton and King's Lynn to weather the recession.

That means the �1 charge to park after 6pm in Hunstanton - introduced as an experiment in July - will remain suspended until March 2014.

Last night William Searle, chairman of Hunstanton Chamber of Trade, said: 'It really made a difference this year, it saved the season. The car parks were still 75pc full at 8pm, where we were losing people before.

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'If they had to go back and a put another pound in before 6pm and they had their family with them they'd just drive home.'

Mr Searle, who runs Searles Seatours taking visitors on trips out to The Wash, added: 'Everyone said they had a record season in the end. I was usually finished by 4pm but I was still going at 8pm.

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'It was the same thing around the town, the restaurants, the fair people, we're absolutely thrilled with how it worked.'

Fred Pooley, whose family owns seven rides on Hunstanton funfair, said: 'We definitely noticed a difference when it came in and I'm sure when business is back to usual we'll notice an even bigger difference.

'I'm really pleased it's going to continue. Once people have parked up and paid, they don't want to have to rush back to their cars to pay again at 6pm. They can just relax and have a walk around the funfair, so it's helped us.'

West Norfolk council hopes freezing charges will also encourage families to shop locally in King's Lynn in the run-up to Christmas - instead of travelling to Norwich, Cambridge or Peterborough. Ben Colson, chair of the town's Business Improvement District (BID) team and managing director of Norfolk Green, said: 'It's important to get a package of measures in place because footfall has started to fall after many years of growth contrary to national trends. The developments on the Hardwick will undoubtedly have an affect on the town centre as well.

'With my company hat on, the measures have got to be welcomed as long as there are associated measures to try to assist traffic flow. It has to be balanced against congestion on the roads.

'Overall it's in our interest as well - everyone wants to see too a vibrant town centre.'

Short term parking on the Tuesday Market Place, will remain at 80p for up to 30 minutes, �1.40 an hour, �2.10 for two hours, or �4.10 for up to five.

Long term parking at Boal Quay will remain �2.10 for all day, while the multi-storey car park on Baker lane will cost �1.40 for up to an hour, �2.10 for up to three hours, �3.40 for up to four hours, or �10 for up to 11 hours.

Council leader Nick Daubney said: 'It's always a difficult job, balancing finances to make sure we have enough income to provide the services we offer, whilst setting charges at an appropriate level that people feel represents value for money. 'I think we've struck just the right balance here. By making savings in other areas, we've been able to freeze car park charges again and introduce some additional car park promotions for the Christmas period.

'I hope that this will encourage people to come into their town centre for the Christmas events and stay to shop at their local retailers.'

Elizabeth Nockolds, West Norfolk's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: 'Feedback from the Town Centre Manager's Forum is that now is not the time to be increasing car park charges.

'The challenging economic climate is already having an impact on traders in town centres across the country and we need to do what we can to help support them.'

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