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Battle to save Great Yarmouth residents’ parking scheme ramped up

PUBLISHED: 09:50 02 December 2011

The battle is on over residents' parking

The battle is on over residents' parking

Archant © 2008

“THE power is in your hands”- that was the message given to those fighting the threatened loss of Great Yarmouth’s residents’ permit parking scheme.

At a Great Yarmouth Residents’ Association meeting this week, business figures and those living in the area were given leaflets arguing the case to keep the permit zone and they were told to spread the word amid determined talk of placards and protest.

Their efforts came during a consultation over the future of the scheme, recommended for the axe by the borough council after it racked up a £97,000 deficit in 2010/11. The final decision rests with Norfolk County Council.

And to a guesthouse dining room packed with representatives from affected areas, including Euston Road and Priory Plain, the association’s vice president Peter Fitzgerald emphasised the onus was on those who want to save the scheme to put their side of the argument forward.

He said: “At the end of the day we’re doing what we can but I think we can up the pressure. The power is in your hands.”

He added the expansion of the consultation to an area wider than that directly affected meant action was all the more necessary. Mr Fitzgerald’s words followed a cover letter sent out to homes by councillor Charles Reynolds as part of the consultation, which was claimed by those at the meeting to be weighted towards ending the scheme.

They also came on the same night as the borough council debated the issue, prompting the late arrival of Labour Cllr Mike Taylor saying Cllr Reynolds had been “rattled” and encouraging the group to “just keep going for it.”

Councillors argue that ending the zone would curb the deficit and increase business in the town, with reassurances given that it would not be ended until October next year.

However, among other things the pro-permit leaflets counter that the lack of guaranteed parking will lower property values, prevent business operators offering their guests temporary permits and lead to loss of money collected from pay and display areas.

Mr Fitzgerald said: “[The leaflets] will be on people’s doorstep and they will have a document to put alongside the one they have been given.

“If that’s as far as we can get on that then we’ve achieved putting information in front of people in a responsible manner which has not been done yet.”

During the meeting there was talk from those present over a “divide and conquer” mentality toward the pro-permit side as well as a “gagging” of its proposals, and a lack of willingness from the borough council to engage with alternatives.

One guesthouse owner called the zone a “godsend”, while another said “We might as well close the day we don’t have them.”

Protests inspired by those seen over the recent Gorleston Pier parking issue were also discussed as a possible tactic.

The funding gap comes as a result of the borough council having to subsidise £165 per permit bought due to the fact that not enough -a round 600 - are bought at £25 each.

But it was argued that figures from a county council document on the issue spoke of only a moderate rise in permit prices to reduce the funding black hole and had not been included in Cllr Reynold’s letter.

Mr Fitzgerald claimed the recent uptake in the council-led Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) scheme would reduce costs: “What we’re doing is a way of saying to people this is not the only way forward, we can work this as a scheme that is better for everyone and we can work this as a scheme that can be on a cost neutral basis.”

The Priory Centre is holding a drop in day on Monday, 10am to 7pm, for people to have a chat and find out more about the issue. Anyone who has not received a letter, or lives and works outside the immediate area, can still take part by emailing gyresidentsparking@norfolk.go.uk. They must include their address and postcode and stating whether or not they hold a permit.

The deadline for comments is Friday, January 13.

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