Pay-and-display shake up puts Great Yarmouth’s free parking at risk

South Quay in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

South Quay in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

Commuters are facing pay-and-display charges at a batch of free car parks across Great Yarmouth as the borough council looks to recover more money from motorists.

Spaces along South Quay, Pasteur Road and Silk Mill Road are among those being targeted as officials try to bridge a funding gap by creating more paid-for parking, depriving beleaguered workers of dozens of much-appreciated off-road spots.

To keep costs down it is being suggested people pay by a phone or text method.

The tentative proposal to introduce day-time parking fees is among papers being presented to the borough council's powerful scrutiny committee.

The report outlines the current position on car parking and offers 'future options' which include converting free car parks to pay-and-display or introducing a permit scheme.

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It justifies the changes by saying the council is out of step with its family of 12 similar authorities and needs to 'recover substantially more' if it is to be on a par with them.

Committee chairman Graham Plant described it as a 'scoping report' with a final say on any recommendations resting with the council's decision-making cabinet.

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The aim, he said, was to give members a full understanding of the current situation as well as what could be possible in the future as policies were re-visited and re-shaped.

Under the proposals the 288 staff and members at the town hall would lose their free parking at Greyfriars House and may have to pay £10 a month for their permits - generating £34,560 a year.

The council operates 33 car parks in the borough, 19 of which are pay-and-display and 14 are free, delivering £290,283 to the general fund.

Charges - which have not been reviewed for five years - have reportedly been changed 'in a piece-meal fashion' with 'a mismatch' between services.

The report states: 'All car parks incur a cost to maintain...whether the car park is pay-and-display or free. It is possible to consider the conversion of currently free car parks to a form of pay-and-display.

'Some of the free car parks are heavily used by commuters during the day with residents parking in the evening. There are options which could be considered to minimise the impact of charging on commuters but cover the costs of maintaining the car parks.'

Potential options include converting some of the free car parks to pay-and-display possibly using phone or text payment methods to minimise costs, or the introduction of a permit parking scheme operating from 9-4pm.

Bringing in a permit scheme at South Quay, Pasteur Road and Silk Mill Road - a total of 134 spaces - could generate £16,080 in ticket sales.

If the scheme was introduced at South Quay only, its 57 spaces would add £6,840 to council coffers.

A mix of options which would involve making staff and members pay, bringing in permit parking at South Quay and leaving Pasteur Road and Silk Mill Road as they are would deliver a potential income of £41,400 a year and still leave some free parking for commuters the report says.

South Quay is one of the few areas of the town for town centre workers to park for free. The riverside was re-vamped in 1998 and dozens of invaluable free parking spaces lost. At the time an idea to pay for parking was put forward, then rejected, a decision for which commuters were grateful with the issue threatening to jeopardise the whole £1m revamp.

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