Harleston and District Business forum to fight ‘illogical’ plan to end free parking in town

MDEP-16-11-2016-028 Bullock Fair Close Car Park Harleston ANL-161116-215419005
MDEP-16-11-2016-028 Bullock Fair Close Car Park Harleston ANL-161116-215419005

The chairman of the Harleston and District Business Forum said he will fight plans to introduce car parking fees in the town next year.

Currently Redenhall with Harleston Town Council pays £17,156, made up of contributions from local parish councils and businesses in the town to keep parking free at the point of use at car parks in Bullock Fair Close and Broad Street.

MDEP-16-11-2016-022 Bullock Fair Close Car Park Harleston ANL-161116-215135005

MDEP-16-11-2016-022 Bullock Fair Close Car Park Harleston ANL-161116-215135005

The proposals, which would need to be agreed by South Norfolk Council’s cabinet, would see the running of the car parks revert back to the district council. It said no charges would be introduced until September 2017.

South Norfolk Council added the changes would support local businesses by discouraging people from parking all day and blocking up potential spaces for shoppers.

But Clive Attwood, chairman of the Harleston and District Business Forum, said any plans to introduce parking would be fought, and said people were “incensed” by the proposed charges.

“When you have a retail hub, do you really want to discourage people from coming to your retail hub by implementing a charge?” he said. “It is illogical.

“There is going to be a huge furore about this. I don’t think I have seen the town so incensed about something, especially the way it has been handled.

“Where is the localism in this? Where is the democracy? We cannot accept this.

“There is a pride in the town. We want to survive and grow and prosper and this is so detrimental to that.”

Mr Attwood said the business forum is due to send out a questionnaire to businesses in and around the Harleston area to gauge opinion on the proposals.

Town council chairman Barry Woods said he was “very concerned”.

He added the only negotiating room they were given was to pay a fee of £15,700 to buy an extra free hour of parking at each car park.

“I have been approached by many people and organisations and businesses who are unhappy that this is being considered,” he said.

“They are extremely unhappy that it is more or less being decided without consultation with the local people.”

Mr Woods has encouraged people to make their views known on potential changes to the town council, which is set to hold a special meeting to discuss their position on the changes.

South Norfolk Council added that if the Harleston car parks were run in the same way as others in the district, £64,500 would be needed to help cover the costs.

Councillor Lee Hornby, South Norfolk Cabinet member for Regulation and Public safety said it would be first changes to tariffs since 2008, following an extensive review.

“Surveys were carried out in our Market Town car parks that showed a lack of available spaces in the town centres.

“The spaces were being blocked by all day users of the car park who were not shoppers or visitors, and were using our central car parks for Park and Ride purposes, were workers in the town’s shops and businesses or were resident or non-resident permit holders.

“The provision of long and short stay car parking options will go a long way to unblocking these central spaces increasing shopper footfall and therefore supporting the vitality of the town centres we are working to support.”