Negotiations to take place over controversial parking charges in Harleston

Rural LifeHarleston

Rural LifeHarleston - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A tense discussion has taken place between two councils over the controversial plan to bring in parking charges in a market town.

More than 100 residents and representatives from Harleston Town Council and South Norfolk Council attended a public meeting at Archbishop Sancroft High School to discuss the issue.

Currently, the town's two car parks - Bullock Fair and Broad Street - are run by the town council and are free to park in.

But they are set to return to South Norfolk Council control in 2017 - who are set to implement charges.

Residents vented their anger at the plan to introduce charges with one saying it would 'kill' the thriving market town.

A vote taken showed unanimous public support for the parking to be kept free.

To help boost their market towns' economy, South Norfolk Council are set to introduce short and long stay car parks and changes to parking fees in Wymondham and Diss in April next year, to improve shop footfall.

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The changes to Harleston's car parks would not come into practice until the current lease runs out in September 2017.

The district council said it had offered a bespoke package for the town, which included investing £300,000 in and taking over management of the leisure centre, removal of the modern toilet block and the refurbishment of the old facilities, and the return of the car park to their control

But Barry Woods, Harleston Town Council chairman, said the package was refused because it was felt the 'three items are very important individually'.

He said the council would like to negotiate to renew the lease from the district council to continue to offer free parking at the point of use.

The public voted unanimously for a steering group to be set up- which will consist of councillors, businesses, organisations and churches- to discuss ideas.

Mr Woods said: 'The idea is we want to involve everybody. The group is to gather the information and to process it.'

The district council said it would be happy to negotiate a lease with the town council.

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