The lease between South Norfolk Council and Harleston Town Council for Bullock Fair and Broad Street car parks ran out in 2016, but the two councils agreed a year’s extension to the lease to enable negotiations to take place over the future of parking in the town.
That extension has now been extended again to allow the town council to hold a Parish Poll giving the residents of Harleston the opportunity to give their views on the three options that are available.
Those options are:
Free parking for one hour. South Norfolk Council will take back control of the two car parks and introduce charging. However, the first hour, as in all car parks run by South Norfolk Council, would be free. This would replace the current lease, creating a saving to the Town Council and its council tax payers of £22,100 per year, (using the town council’s figures.)
Parking charges would apply Monday to Saturday, with parking free after 5pm.
The second option is for two hours of free parking. South Norfolk Council would take back control of the car parks and Harleston Town Council would pay £15,700 per year for an additional free hour, making the first two hours free. Again, using the Town Council’s figures, this would result in a saving of £6,400 on what it currently pays and there would be free parking after 4pm.
The last option is for Harleston Town Council to agree a 10 year lease with South Norfolk Council and parking would remain free at all times. The Town Council’s figures show this option would create a budgetary increase of £67,523 per year equating to a £27.66 increase in Council tax for a band D property. This cost would increase year on year but parking would remain free at all times.
South Norfolk Cabinet member Lee Hornby said. “In reality there is no such thing as free parking. There is always a cost to be paid and what the town council has to decide is who pays that cost. The people who drive into Harleston or the old age pensioner who walks to the shops.
“Surveys have shown that 84% of people who shop in Harleston stay for less than two hours and although it’s for the town council to decide, the two hour option might be the way forward, especially if the Co-op can be persuaded to help with the cost.
“It has been suggested that the town council should buy the car parks, but that option is not open to the town council as the car parks are not for sale.”
The Parish Poll will take place on 7 September at the Memorial Leisure Centre between 4pm and 9pm. The poll gives people living in Harleston an opportunity to help the town council decide which option is best for the town and its residents.