Parking charges to stay fixed in borough despite £4m budget shortfall

The busy Tuesday Market Place car park at King's Lynn.Photo: Denise BradleyCopy: Lynn officeFo

The busy Tuesday Market Place car park at King's Lynn. Photo: Denise Bradley Copy: Lynn office For: EDP slip Archant Norfolk pics © 2004 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2004

A council does not intend to increase car parking charges, despite facing a £4m shortfall because it will be down to the last of its reserves in four years' time.

West Norfolk council's five year financial plan was approved by the authority's ruling cabinet on Tuesday. It includes a £21m budget for 2021 - 22.

Michelle Drewey, the council's assistant director of resources, said the council would draw down £5.9m from its reserves to fund its budget in 2022 - 23 and 2023 - 24, but by 2024 -25 its resources would be at their minimum level of £1.2m, leaving it facing a £4m shortfall.  

Councillor Alun Ryves said the report was "a retreat from Moscow", with the council facing a "catastrophic" situation. He asked why the council was not putting up parking charges to help cover the shortfall.

New leader of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Brian Long. Picture: Matthew Usher

West Norfolk council leader Brian Long - Credit: Matthew Usher

Graham Middleton, portfolio holder for business development, said: "We are continuously lobbying our MPs and do hope for a fairer funding review to be announced sooner rather than later."

He added increasing parking charges at the current time would be detrimental to residents and businesses.

Stuart Dark, portfolio holder for emergency planning said it was the wrong time to do so with businesses looking to reopen after lockdown and people looking to go on their first holidays. 

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Council leader Brian Long said parking charges were not on the table for discussion. He said increasing them would adversely impact the public purse and the town centre.

Cabinet members agreed to recommend the five-year plan to full council when it meet on February 25.

Titan the Robot helps offically open the new KLIC building in King's Lynn. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Councillors have agree to a £250,000 extension to King's Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC) - Credit: Matthew Usher

Councillors received a report on the council's capital programme, totalling £54m.

Major projects include housing developments at Marsh Lane and Lynnsport, a £597,000 contribution towards the new nursing school at the College of West Anglia and £250,000 for a move-on centre and extended car park at the King's Lynn Innovation Centre.

Mr Middleton said the council was not intending to spend £250,000 on "the physical KLIC building".

He said the money would provide extra parking spaces and explore the options for a move-on centre for businesses which were ready to expand. 

Alun Ryves said he was "baffled" why the refurbishment of the Guildhall of St George, which would cost £3m and bring in £55m, was not in the programme.

Cabinet members agreed to recommend the programme to full council. 

James argues that people like the Queen and Captain Tom Moore have been through far worse than most

Captain Tom Moore, who raised the nation's spirits during the first lockdown, has passed away after contracting coronavirus - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The meeting also paused for a minute's silence for Capt Tom Moore, who passed away from Covid-19 at the age of 100. Mr Long said it was a sad state of affairs, because Capt Moore had done so much to lift people's spirits during the pandemic.

Capt Moore hoped to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 steps around his garden in Bedford to celebrate his 100th birthday during the first lockdown but he ended up raising £32m.