Study planned into Breckland car parking
A council is set to spend �50,000 on a study on its car parks – which could lead to parking charges for the first time.
Earlier this month Breckland Council revealed it may end free parking in Thetford, Dereham, Swaffham, Attleborough and Watton – news greeted with shock by businesses, shoppers and community leaders fearful any charges could have a massive impact on the market towns which have always benefitted from free parking. The EDP and its sister papers carried out an online poll revealing 96pc of people are opposed to charges.
On January 10 Breckland's ruling cabinet will be recommended to release �50,000 for a feasibility study on 'alternative car park policy feasibility.' Councillors will be advised to 'authorise officers to discuss alternative car parking provision with external organisations to enable the council to build a robust business case.'
Breckland's strategic property manager Ralph Burton has written a report for cabinet saying the cost of providing public car parking in the district is �130,470 in 'operational revenue costs' and �680,000 in the capital programme for improvement works. 'All these costs currently fall to the taxpayer as opposed to the motorists – or user – of car parks,' said Mr Burton.
Breckland has 28 public car parks with 2,308 spaces in the towns and Mr Burton noted the majority of other Norfolk councils charged for parking.Over the next five years Breckland has to make up �3.5m in raising council tax or charging for services or a combination of the two.
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Mr Burton said the study would cover car park useage, a full financial appraisal, unavailability of car parks due to issues such as market days, getting the views of residents and businesses, decriminalisation of on-street parking, impact on town centres and trade and technology options. He added: 'An alternative car park policy could help to balance the council's budget over the next four years.'
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