Winners and losers in parking review

Car parking fee changes in north Norfolk are unlikely to be a major help to the district's hard-pressed towns say local traders.A raft of proposed charges - some up some down - were backed by influential cabinet councillors this week.

Car parking fee changes in north Norfolk are unlikely to be a major help to the district's hard-pressed towns say local traders.

A raft of proposed charges - some up some down - were backed by influential cabinet councillors this week.

They mean motorists face paying more to stay for an hour (�1 instead of 60p), less to stay for two (�1 instead of �1.20) and three (�1.70 instead of �1.80) and more for their season tickets.

Resources cabinet member Peter Moore said it meant short-term parking was actually cheaper for the first two hours, in a bid to encourage people to shop in local towns.


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He stressed the season tickets still represented good value for money, but Nigel Ripley told North Norfolk District Council's cabinet meeting on Monday he felt the 25pc increase in short stay fees was excessive and would be raising it when the scrutiny committee looked at the budget tomorrow.

The package of parking measures, which would bring another �123,000 into the council coffers, comprises:

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in short stay and standard car parks the current 60p for one hour and �1.20p for two, is replaced with a �1 fee up to two hours, with 70p hourly increases after that.

in tourist car parks the hourly rate rises 10p to �1.10, and the all day rate 50p to �5.

annual season ticket rises of �10 for short stay to �50 and �15 to �180 for long stay, with other variances for half yearly and quarterly tickets

retaining the 20 minute mini-stay for 10p

Reaction to the charges among the traders' representatives in local towns was luke warm.

At Sheringham, Janet Farrow, said it was 'more negative than positive.' Most people spent more than two hours in the town because of its depth of shopping and combining with a trip to a caf� or meeting friends. The biggest problem was that the main car park at Station Road was ranked as a high-fee tourist one, meaning shoppers paid premium rates.

At Cromer Sue Brown said many people only needed an hour to do quick errands, but it might encourage them to spend an extra hour there. It would be better to increase the mini stay from 20 to 30 minutes, and add some long-stay parking to the main shoppers' car park at the Meadow.

John Lintott at Holt said fine-tuning a few pence would not make much difference. It needed a bigger gesture, such as a free period. But more importantly Holt needed a new car park.

And Sam Reynolds, at North Walsham, said the biggeset problem was the variety of rates.

"If they need to put the charges up that's one thing, but the biggest problem is that it's all so complicated. People stand at the machines wondering what they are supposed to do.'

She backed the 20 minute scheme, but felt it needed more publicity.

Resources director Sheila Oxtoby said the expected extra income from the parking charge changes was �138,484 but it would cost �15,000 to implement.

It was also aimed to trial new parking machines in the busier towns of Cromer, Sheringham and Holt this year including adding a card payment facility.

The parking charges are just part of a �15.8m district council budget supported by cabinet, and due to be finally decided by the full council on February 18.

It includes a proposed 3.45pc rise in its share of the council tax bill.

Mr Moore said it had been a 'challenging time' trying to balance the budget this year, because of the 'turmoil' in the financial markets, falling investment income and a 'meagre' government grant of an extra 1.11pc which gave the council just another �97,345.

The proposed council tax rise meant the average Band D home would pay �135.09 for its district series, which was just another 9p a week.

Savings included a review of CCTV coverage, and drop in frequency of verge cutting, while extra income came from some extra planning charges, higher garden waste fees and the car parking changes.

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