Controversial County Hall parking charges put on ice

Dr Wendy Thomson, the managing director of Norfolk County Council. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Dr Wendy Thomson, the managing director of Norfolk County Council. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Controversial proposals to charge Norfolk County Council staff to park at County Hall have been put on hold, after an intervention from the authority's managing director.

The 2,000 plus staff who work for the council were told last month that, from next year, they would have to pay to park at the authority's Norwich headquarters from next year, after bosses decided to scrap free car parking. Staff were also told that the number of days when they were stopped from parking at County Hall would increase, while councillors and the public were exempt from the changes.

Unison leaders had criticised the move, which could cost staff up to £690 a year in return for parking at the 830-space car park.

And some councillors had raised concerns as well, particularly given they had not been given a chance to debate whether the charges, which would have raised £440,000, should be introduced.

In the light of the controversy, Wendy Thomson, managing director of the council, decided to put the changes on ice - for now.

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In a letter to staff, she wrote: 'I have asked officers to delay the implementation of changes to staff car parking arrangements at County Hall.

'Many of you will know that the car park is already over-subscribed, and as more staff move into County Hall as part of our property rationalisation strategy, the situation will become more challenging to manage. 'Various short-term measures have already been put in place, but a more fundamental review is needed. 'However, it is important to ensure that all possible avenues for managing the car parking situation at County Hall have been exhaustively examined, and that the legitimate concerns members have expressed for staff wellbeing are fully considered.

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'The delay will give time to closely analyse the feedback from staff themselves and explore whether there are further alternatives we could and should pursue.'

A motion over the charges was due to be discussed by the full council on Monday, but was withdrawn following the managing director's decision to suspend the proposals.

But Ian Mackie, deputy leader of the Conservative group, said his party were against charging. He said: 'It comes across as a lazy way to generate revenue which is not sustainable, while it would also push the issue out to surrounding areas.

'Staff have also had pay freezes over the past few years and have worked with the council to steer us through financial difficulties and this is no way to treat those staff.' • Do you think council staff should pay to park at County Hall? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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