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Council's defence over car park

PUBLISHED: 19:46 10 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:59 03 July 2010

Miles Jermy

GREAT Yarmouth Borough Council moved to defend itself this week from public criticism over the controversial closure of Gorleston Pier car park.

In a statement, the council stressed that it had never owned the car park at the popular wave-watching spot or had the finances to pay for its repair.

GREAT Yarmouth Borough Council moved to defend itself this week from public criticism over the controversial closure of Gorleston Pier car park.

In a statement, the council stressed that it had never owned the car park at the popular wave-watching spot or had the finances to pay for its repair. It follows demands for pressure to be put on owners EastPort to re-open the car park that was shut indefinitely in June.

However, borough council portfolio holder for economic development, regeneration and tourism, Graham Plant, revealed he was in negotiations with port bosses over the issue.

Cllr Plant said: “People seem to think it is in the gift of the council to allow cars to park there, but the pier was never in our ownership. There is a lot of misconception - we had several recent councillors meetings in Gorleston where residents assumed that we owned the car park.

“I am talking with EastPort to with a view to getting the car park re-opened, but banging on the table is not a reasonable way of getting things done.

“EastPort are keen on get the outer harbour operating successfully first rather than spending money on something that is not a priority. Once the revenue is coming in, then we can ask if they can re-open the car park.

“The council coffers are depleted too - why should ratepayers in Winterton, Bradwell or Hopton fund repairs of a car park in Gorleston that is entirely privately owned?

“The best way forward is negotiation and I hope to reach an agreement that will come to a positive conclusion for the people of Gorleston.”

The car park was leased from the old port authority for 21 years from 1965 when for a time parking charges were made, which did not cover running costs.

A petition was signed by 560 people at the Cliff Top Festival in July calling for the car park to re-open and nearly 300 names are now posted on an online petition on the website of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The statement issued by the borough council said: “This car park has never according to current records been in the council's ownership. It did however take a lease of the site from the port authority and, while this agreement continued for a few years after expiry, it ceased completely and the site was passed back to the authority a number of years ago.

“Regrettably in the current challenging time of local government finances the council is not in the position to take over and run assets on behalf of other landowners unless there is a sustainable use to which they can be put.”

To sign the online petition visit www.gorleston-heritage.co.uk or www.gorlestonpavilion.co.uk .

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