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'People feel like they are being charged to go shopping' -Calls for free parking to boost town centre

PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 15 February 2019

Lowestoft High Street.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft High Street. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

A councillor has called for the introduction of free car parking to boost the fortunes of businesses in a coastal town.

Alice Taylor is the chair of the Planning and Environment Committee at Lowestoft Town Council. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Town CouncilAlice Taylor is the chair of the Planning and Environment Committee at Lowestoft Town Council. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Town Council

Alice Taylor, of Lowestoft Town Council, voiced the idea after it was revealed the number of parking fines dished out across Waveney District Council-operated sites has rocketed in recent years.

Clapham Road Car Park, near Lowestoft’s town centre, racked up the most fines – 2,398 between 2016 and 2018.

And Mrs Taylor believes the fines and cost of parking could be putting off potential shoppers.

Lowestoft High Street.
Picture: Nick ButcherLowestoft High Street. Picture: Nick Butcher

She said: “If we don’t make it easy for people to come and shop they will simply go to places that welcome them – it’s as simple as that.

“Free parking at certain low use time or for the first hour will make a world of difference.”

The 61-year-old added: “I think the system need to allow people to come to the town centre for a quick shop – it’s a psychological thing.

More drivers are fined at Clapham Road Car Park than any other in Waveney. Photo: James Carr.More drivers are fined at Clapham Road Car Park than any other in Waveney. Photo: James Carr.

“I understand Waveney District Council needs to make money but I would make the first hour free and charge those who stay five or six hours up a little bit more.

This year The Body Shop, Claire’s and Beales department store have all announced the closure of town centre stores.

And last month RopeWorks bar, on nearby Battery Green Road, also closed.

The councillor pointed to the success of retail parks outside the town centre as an example of a successful model.

Mrs Taylor added: “People feel like they are being charged to go shopping and we need to change that feeling.”

The district council has previously waived parking fees at key trading times - such as over the festive period and explained it was looking at a variety of ways to boost Lowestoft.

A WDC spokesman said: “We are committed to exploring a range of ideas to improve Lowestoft town centre with parking forming only a part of our wide-ranging strategy.

“Primarily though we want to explore opportunities to invest in the town itself, what it has to offer and how it can attract more people to visit and spend time here.

“We never rule out incentivised parking schemes and have promoted a number of successful free parking offers in the past. However, there are wider issues for the town and we are working with partners, exploring funding opportunities and looking at a variety of ways to take Lowestoft forward.”

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