Council may close car parks unless visitors stay away

A closed coastal car park in Sheringham. All but two council-run car parks in North Norfolk remain c

A car park in Sheringham when it was closed during the first coronavirus lockdown last year. North Norfolk District Council leader Sarah Bütikofer said some car parks may have to be closed again to discourage visitors.    Picture: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Archant

Public car parks on the north Norfolk coast may have to be closed unless people start adhering to the lockdown more, a council leader has said.

Sarah Bütikofer of North Norfolk District Council said that while they did not want to close any of its 25+ car parks, it may become necessary to discourage people from traveling to the district. 

Mrs Bütikofer said: “I would like to keep them open so that local people can travel to them. 

Liberal Democrat council leader Sarah Bütikofer. Picture: North Norfolk District Council

Liberal Democrat council leader Sarah Bütikofer. Picture: North Norfolk District Council - Credit: North Norfolk District Council

“But if we see this persistence of people traveling long distances to come and exercise, we will have no choice but to close them.  

“People are trying to get to more remote spots to exercise, which means it is harder to get access to them if they get into trouble. Please keep safe and keep local.”

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The government has said people can leave their home to exercise but not for the purpose of recreation or leisure, such as a picnic or a social meeting. 

The guidelines say this should be limited to once per day, and people should not travel outside their local area. 

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But Mrs Bütikofer said the guidance was not clear enough, and called on the government to tell people not to travel to other areas to exercise. 

She said: “People are still not understanding what local is, and we need people to be staying local. But the government need to be clearer about what their definition of local is.”

During the first coronavirus lockdown in March/April the council closed car parks at popular spots including Holt Country Park, and in coastal locations including Cromer, Sheringham and Cart Gap.

When Norfolk in was in Tier 2 and then Tier 4 there were reports of people traveling from the Midlands to fish at north Norfolk's beaches, and of second home-owners relocating to the district from other parts of the country. 

Under the new rules staying at a second home or caravan that is not a primary residence is forbidden except in special circumstances, for example visiting a support bubble, or if somebody needs temporary accommodation when moving house. 

Visit to see the full guidance. 

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