Harleston parking charges frustrate owner of the Swan Hotel

Harleston street market

Harleston street market - Credit: Archant

A prominent hotelier has blasted South Norfolk Council over car park changes which are to be introduced in Harleston.

A prominent hotelier has blasted South Norfolk Council over car park changes which are to be introduced in Harleston.

Robin Twigge, who owns the Swan Hotel, said he was 'disappointed' to learn the Bullock Fair and Broad Street car parks - which are currently run by the town council and are free to park in - will be returned to South Norfolk Council who are set to implement charges.

And he has criticised the district council who he said did not inform or consult the residents and businesses in the town.

In a letter to the Mercury Mr Twigge said: 'I accept that it is for district councillors to make the decisions, but I strongly object to what seems to the ordinary person as underhanded behaviour by the council especially as we learn that our elected councillors, Jeremy Savage and Brian Riches, were equally in the dark about the proposals.

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'This is a very sad day for local democracy. It taints the spirit of joint working which has been developing so well between councils and the community.'

South Norfolk Council will be introducing short stay and long stay car parks and parking fee changes in Wymondham and Diss in April 2017, with the aim to improve shop footfall.

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The scheme will not come into play in Harleston until 2017 - but final decisions will have to be decided by the cabinet.

But Mr Twigge, said free parking is 'vital to Harleston' because it does not have the attractions of the other market towns, such as the Diss Mere and Wymondham Abbey. He said: 'It is the backbone of business and an attraction to locals, visiting shoppers and those who come here for recreation and socialising in a relaxed way, free from time pressures.

'If charges are imposed, I am afraid that the town will change for the worse.'

Lee Hornby, district cabinet member for regulation and public safety, said: 'As with all South Norfolk Council run car parks, the first hour will be free and you will also have the option to pay when you leave the car park, so you only pay for the time you need.'

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