Village loses its free car park after breakdown in lease discussions
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Concerns have been raised that the decision to no longer provide a free car park in a North Norfolk seaside village will harm businesses and the local community.
Until recently people visiting or living in West Runton on the North Norfolk coast were able to park free of charge in a village car park on Cromer Road.
The car park was operated by the parish council, which rented the land from the West Runton Social Club for around £500 a year.
However, when the car park lease came up for renewal earlier in May, the two parties failed to negotiate a new contract. As a result, the Social Club has taken back control of the land and is in the process of turning it into a pay and display car park - meaning the village has lost its facility.
A move that has been described as "a severe blow to the village" by a business owner in the area.
Roy Beckley, one of the trustees of West Runton Social Club, which is a not-for-profit organisation said the club "didn't really want to run a car park" but was forced to when discussions between the two parties broke down.
He said in a 2019 meeting to discuss the lease of the car park land the social club proposed new rent of £5,000 a year, a figure that "seemed about right" to the club but one to which the parish council "threw their hands up in the air".
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Mr Beckley said "in the end" the social club began talking to a car park management company because it "wants some money to keep the building of the social club fit for purpose."
Barbara Emery, the clerk of Runton parish council, agreed that the loss of the free car park was "a blow to the village."
She said: "It was not the parish council who ended the lease. It came to its natural end and the parish council were unable to come to an agreement about the rent with the social club to renew it.
"The parish council had wanted to renew it, but in the future money would need to be spent and it may have come about that a charge would have to be put on the parking there as will be done now."