Shopkeepers claim parking rules at Earlham House Shopping Centre are hitting their trade
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
Angry shopkeepers claim parking enforcement at their Norwich shopping centre is driving trade away.
Traders at Earlham House Shopping Centre staged a demonstration over the way private contractor National Parking Enforcement (NPE) handles contraventions of rules in the centre's car park.
NPE is contracted by centre owners Bellgold Properties to enforce the centre's car park, off Earlham Road. It uses CCTV to spot violations.
But traders say they and their customers are falling foul of the enforcement, which they claim is too extreme.
One trader revealed he has paid fines for customers to stop them turning their backs on his business. Zhi Wang, owner of Royal Plaza Restaurant said: 'I have paid some of my customers' parking fees, otherwise they said they would never come back.'
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Richard Bray, owner of RJ Bray Butchers, said: 'My footfall has been affected by around 25pc since NPE took on parking enforcement. I am very unhappy about it.'
A spokesman for NPE said: 'What the shopkeepers at Earlham House are perhaps not grasping is that without providing the successful control and management of this parking area, it would simply revert back to being a free 24 hour parking area for local residents, as it was before we managed the site.'
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They said less than 0.3pc of the 12,740 vehicles which use the car park each month breached parking terms and conditions - the majority for parking in disabled bays without displaying blue badges.
Denise Carlo, Green city councillor for Nelson ward, has written a letter, signed by traders, calling on the government to tighten up the law on parking companies which manage parking on private land.
She said: 'The government promised to bring in reforms but we have seen no sign and in the meantime, local shopping centres such as Earlham House are suffering the consequences'.
Nobody from Bellgold Properties was available to comment.