Norwich parking permits shake-up plan
Families in Norwich whose friends and relatives use visitor parking permits when they stay for more than four nights in a week will now have to seek permission from the city council for them to park.
The shake-up has been ordered because of Norwich City Council's attempts to crack down on the misuse of permits.
Much of the city is covered by controlled parking zones, where householders are able to buy one residents' and one visitors' permit from the city council.
But there have long been complaints that the visitor permits are being misused and even sold on to people who work in the city, who then leave their cars in residential streets, preventing genuine residents from parking.
Council officers have been trying to tackle the problem in recent months and it has become clear that penalty charge notices being issued are regularly being waived on appeal because the wording is not explicit enough.
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Figures released by the city council reveal that a total of 926 Penalty Charge Notices have been waived in the last 12 months.
To get around that problem, council officers asked councillors to make changes to the terms and conditions of the parking permits, which cost between �16 and �35 a year depending on the length of the vehicle.
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Councillors, without comment or discussion, yesterday agreed those revised terms in less than five minutes at a meeting of the Norwich highways agency committee, made up of city and county councillors.
However, one of the revisions could have massive repercussions on people who live in those zones who have family and friends staying over for anything longer than four days in a week.
Until now the visitor permits have been fine to use on visitor's vehicles for two weeks, so long as the vehicle owner is either in the property it was issued to or is in the company of the person who permanently lives there.
But under the new terms agreed yesterday, visitor permits are now not valid if used for longer than four out of seven days in any 14 day period without 'the prior agreement of the council'.
That creates the strange scenario where somebody being visited by relatives for a week will have to ask the council if it is okay for them to use the visitor permit.
It will also catch out anyone who uses their visitor permit for a second car, with a new condition making clear: 'The permit is not valid when displayed on a vehicle owned, or being used on a regular basis, by a person who is resident at the property the permit was issued in respect of.'
It also creates a problem for people who live in controlled parking zones, but who do not own cars, but might use their visitor permit for rental cars. Like when families visit, they would have to inform the council to avoid a penalty notice after four days have elapsed.
Following the meeting, a spokesman for Norwich City Council said: 'What these changes recognise is that some people have been investigated for permit misuse only to find that the permits were being used correctly. We wanted to lower the chance of misunderstanding by clarifying the terms and conditions of the visitor permit.
'On the other hand there are a number of people who are continually misusing permits that we need to stop from doing this, and these updated conditions mean that we will be able to deal directly with these issues and make using the visitors parking permits clearer for everyone.'
One person who has already been caught out by the crackdown on parking permits is Cecilia Bromley-Martin, who lives off City Road.
She has been told that a friend who drives from north Norwich to her home so they can car share to Attleborough is not allowed to leave her car at her home while the pair make the trip to work together.
Ms Bromley-Martin, who works for car share company Liftshare, said: 'The county council is aspiring to make Norfolk and Norwich greener, and as part of this has a car sharing scheme for anyone living in the county in order to reduce pollution and congestion. 'Yet the city council has written to me to say that my car-sharer, who drives from north Norwich, cannot leave her car at my house on the days I drive us to Attleborough, even though we are reducing cars on the road at rush hour, halving the CO2 emissions of our commute, and we only ever leave her car or mine on the road - never both.
'I have been told the subject is closed, and that alternative options may be available such as purchasing a season ticket for the pay and display car park - which would cost between �900 to �2.300 a year.'
She raised the issue at a meeting of the city council this week, where she asked whether it might be possible for some permits to be issued which indicate they can be used for car sharing.
Council leader Steve Morphew told her at the meeting that would probably not be feasible, but said he would ask officers to look at other alternatives which could help.
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