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Battle for free parking in Caister fails

PUBLISHED: 14:35 10 May 2009 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 July 2010

A CAMPAIGN to secure free parking on a Caister car park appears to have failed after the borough council decided against removing charges during the summer tourist season.

A CAMPAIGN to secure free parking on a Caister car park appears to have failed after the borough council decided against removing charges during the summer tourist season.

However, the campaigners are considering mounting a legal challenge on the basis the Beach Road car park is in such a poor state of repair with potholes that motorists should not have to pay to park there.

More than 260 residents had signed a petition calling for an end to charging in the car park to prevent tourists cluttering residential streets with their cars to avoid paying.

The situation had looked promising in January when Graham Plant, the council's cabinet member for regeneration and tourism, suggested removing the charges for this year's summer season, which started in April.

But the council's cabinet opposed any move to introduce free parking at the car park, fearing the loss of the £8,000 revenue it generates during the tourist season.

Mr Plant said: “I said before Christmas that we may consider a free car park for the summer but obviously what we have to take into account is the council's finances during a time of recession. As you know council budgets are tight at the moment and I think it would be very irresponsible to turn down £8,000 in income for the borough.”

But Councillor Marie Field called for an investigation into whether it is legal for the borough to charge motorists to park on what she claims is a badly maintained car park.

In a letter addressed to Chris Skinner, the council's head of central services and Richard Packham, the council's managing director, she said: “I would like to make a request that you suspend all charges on this car park until a full investigation into the legal aspect is carried out.”

But Mr Skinner said car parking legislation allowed the council to charge motorists to park whatever the condition of the land.

He said: “The local authority could have a lovely, well surfaced car park or a roughly surfaced car park. In either case it could make charges if it wished.

“If it is a roughly surfaced car park there could be a case if a car was damaged where the motorist could make a claim against the local authority, but such a claim could be made whether the car park was charged or free.”


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