North Norfolk District Council car park ‘was not opened up to the general public to profit’ from New Year fireworks display in Cromer
- Credit: � ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC
A council which needs to find more than £1 million to plug a funding gap revealed it cost the taxpayer more than double the amount raised to charge motorists to park in its normally free car park in Cromer on the day of one of the town's biggest fundraisers.
With a crowd of up to 10,000 people expected for its annual fireworks display on January 8, North Norfolk District Council opened its 250-space car park at its headquarters on Holt Road to ease the congestion.
However, while neighbouring businesses allowed free parking at their premises ahead of the free event, which raises money for good causes, the local authority charged motorists £2 per car entry.
And now it has emerged it cost the council a total of £124.02 to staff the car park that day, while it only collected £56 in parking fees.
The figures were released to this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request.
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However, the council has defended its decision to charge for parking at its publicly-owned car park on the day of the fundraiser.
A spokesperson for the local authority said: 'On January 8, two members of staff, who were already working at the council headquarters that day, were employed to marshall the car park. We would have marshalled the car park regardless of whether a car parking fee was charged. The staffing costs would have been incurred regardless of whether a fee was charged.
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'As with all council car parks for the event there was a charge for using the car park. There are inherent costs in supporting the New Year's fireworks event, and any income generated from the offer of additional car parking spaces goes some way to meeting those costs.
'If the event had been held on the night intended the car parking charge may have helped to have covered more of the cost. The car park was not opened up to the general public to profit from the event, it was opened up to ensure the additional car parking spaces were available to support the event.'
The fireworks are funded by Cromer Town Council which ploughs half the proceeds back into the following year's event and gives the rest away.
This year's display was originally due to be held on New Year's Day but was postponed by a week due to adverse weather.
'North Norfolk District Council opened up the council office's car park in response to a request from Cromer Town Council to increase the supply of parking specifically for the fireworks, due on December 31 when the event has attracted 10,000 plus people to the town,' the council spokesperson explained.
'In addition to opening up the council office car park, we also supported the event through later opening of public toilets and additional street cleaning and provided for the free hire of the pier on the night.'