Bid to scrap evening parking charges in north Norfolk widely welcomed

Parking charges spelled out on a North Norfolk District Council board at The Meadow car park, Cromer

Parking charges spelled out on a North Norfolk District Council board at The Meadow car park, Cromer. - Credit: Archant

Moves to scrap controversial evening parking charges across north Norfolk have been widely welcomed.

The £1 charge, from 6pm-11pm, has been in operation for two years and is especially unpopular at North Walsham Community Centre where many unsuspecting users have returned to their cars to find a ticket and fine waiting for them.

Colin Jeary, chairman of the centre's management committee, said a North Norfolk District Council car park was directly outside the New Road building and was used by most centre-goers. It not only added an extra £1 to the cost of a night out – putting the centre at a disadvantage compared to other venues – but some visitors to birthday parties and music events travelled from outside north Norfolk.

'They don't know about the charge and get caught out. Hirers have commented too that other venues have free parking,' said Mr Jeary.

'I'm pleased to hear this news. It will put us on a level playing field with other venues.'

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NNDC's ruling Conservative party has announced that it wants to scrap the evening charge and also introduce a free half-hour's parking, from 9am-9.30am, across its 26 pay-and-display car parks.

Deputy leader Rhodri Oliver, who is responsible for car parks, said officers had been asked to work on the details. If approved, a three-month statutory consultation period would take place and Mr Oliver hoped the changes would come into force from mid-September.

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'North Norfolk must remain competitive as the recovery begins and I hope this will be a real boost to enterprise and residents alike,' he said.

The administration had hoped to include the changes in its February budget but at that time the cost to NNDC of the December tidal surge clear-up had been estimated at £3m.

Since then grants and insurance payouts had reduced its liability to a little under £525,000.

Andy Bullen, secretary of Sheringham Chamber of Trade, also welcomed the news: 'Holidaymakers in our seaside resorts want to go out in the evening to restaurants, pubs, the cinema and theatre and they don't want to come back to a £60 fine. I've heard reports of it happening and people have said they won't come back to north Norfolk.'

'This is a positive move which will encourage people to come to the district and spend money,' he said.

Bruce Stratton, of Openwide, the company which manages Cromer Pier, said anything which increased costs for people in difficult financial times was detrimental and therefore plans to scrap the charge were 'an excellent idea.'

Nicholas Lee, chairman of the North Walsham Chamber for Business, said the moves were a good idea but the public would still be confused by the different charging periods.

He hoped the free half hour would encourage more people to shop locally after the school run.

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