A leaflet to Harleston residents states that if the town council takes a ten year lease on the car park and keeps free parking, this would create a budgetary increase of £67,523 per year (£27.66 per household).
As an accountant, I believe this information is misleading. The community called for free car parking, and the town council sensibly proposed to South Norfolk Council to take over the lease for a peppercorn rent, and to continue to maintain the car park itself, with no costs to South Norfolk.
Annual costs, compared to current costs, would increase by around £7,000, a small amount to preserve the welcoming character of our town. This need not increase taxes. Businesses and parishes make contributions, and the town council could release a small part of its reserves so the cost is absorbed. This would make Harleston car park cost-neutral to South Norfolk at minimum cost to Harleston.
South Norfolk rejected this request, claiming other market towns would subsidise Harleston, although South Norfolk would spend no money here. They wish to impose a £37,000 lease payment, included in the
£67,523. This would confer no benefit to Harleston, but would contribute towards district costs of running car parks elsewhere, for example, pay of a car park manager and enforcement officers, neither needed at Harleston, Harleston would subsidise other car parks.
I hope Harleston residents will vote for free car parking without being deterred by the cost figures, which can be reduced given political flexibility.
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