North Norfolk District Council to donate more than £1,000 to Poppy Appeal after Remembrance Day parking-charges confusion

This year's Remembrance Day service at Holt war memorial. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

This year's Remembrance Day service at Holt war memorial. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Councillors have been left with poppy-red faces after hundreds of unwitting motorists paid for free parking on Remembrance Sunday.

As a result North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has decided to donate all the cash taken in its pay-and-display machines on November 10 – more than £1,000 – to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

And the council has also pledged to look afresh at how it alerts motorists to special free parking days after 638 of them failed to spot notices posted in car parks across the district.

NNDC announced at the end of October that its car parks would be free from 8am-6pm on Remembrance Sunday and the information was published in the News and its sister papers the EDP and Fakenham and Wells Times.

An NNDC spokesman said details were also posted before the end of October near or on the panel of charges in each car park.

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But the council did not try to make it impossible for people to put money in the machines themselves.

'Logistically this would be difficult, time-consuming and costly owing to the resources required for such short-term changes,' said the spokesman.

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About 100 motorists were caught out in each of Cromer, Sheringham and Wells and the rest were evenly spread across the district's total of 25 car parks, according to the spokesman.

Rhodri Oliver, NNDC deputy leader and cabinet member for corporate assets, said: 'We did what we could to try to ensure everyone was aware that parking would be free on Remembrance Day, but unfortunately some people still put their money in the pay-and-display machines.

'We did not expect this and, in line with our intent when we announced we would remove car park charges for the day, we will now be donating the total sum (£1,156.50) to the Poppy Appeal.'

The council would be reviewing how it could stop the problem re-occurring on the two Saturdays before Christmas – December 14 and 21 from 2-11pm – when parking would again be free.

But the spokesman said there was no space to place notices on the ticket machines themselves unless they were put in at the base, 'which is not ideal', or so small that it would not be possible to include all the necessary information.

'We have a specific space on the pay-and-display signs to add promotions or additional information and we try to make the new signage bright and colourful to stand out,' he added.

Briant Angus, Cromer and district Poppy Appeal organiser, with his wife Pam, welcomed the council's decision.

'It's a marvellous and very kind gesture,' he said. Although Cromer's Poppy Appeal total was not yet known, contributions were significantly down this year.

Mr Angus added: 'This is the first year we've gone backwards but even if the money doesn't come directly to us, it all goes to the same good cause.'

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