Yarmouth residents’ parking scheme could be axed

MOTORISTS playing by the rules in Great Yarmouth have put the future of the town’s residents’ permit parking scheme in jeopardy.

MOTORISTS playing by the rules in Great Yarmouth have put the future of the town’s residents’ permit parking scheme in jeopardy.

Now, there is a proposal to scrap the scheme after its costs rocketed because less money is being made from parking fines.

The recommendation from the borough council’s car parking strategy steering group would mean current permit parking zones would be a parking ‘free-for-all’ from December.

The cost-cutting measure is aimed at preventing residents and businesses from having to pay to park near their premises, whilst eliminating the scheme’s annual deficit – which has grown over the years from nearly �27,000 in 2007/2008, to close to �97,000 in 2010/2011.

The decision on whether to scrap the scheme will have to have final approval from both Norfolk county and Yarmouth borough councils.

But the move has met staunch opposition from Labour councillors in the wards affected, who believe more free parking in Yarmouth would hamper local people as it would increase competition for spaces.

Most Read

Conservative councillor Charles Reynolds is chairman of the car parking strategy steering group which voted in favour of removing permit parking.

He said: “Quite frankly while this scheme was introduced with good intentions, there is no doubt that from an economic point of view it has been a disaster.

“As it stands, we are recommending it to the county council to be scrapped.

“We want to send out the message that this town is open for business and car-friendly. We want to get the kids, mum, dad and granny out of the car and start spending in this town.”

The scheme was launched in 2006 with the intention of being cost neutral by balancing the sale of permits and the money made from drivers who received fines when parking in a zone without a permit.

However, the revenue generated from fines has reduced in the past four years leading to a shortfall increase.

It was suggested if the scheme remained in place then the deficit could be reduced with the introduction of the Civil Parking Enforcement Scheme in the Autumn when the borough council takes responsibility for the borough’s traffic wardens.

Labour councillor Michael Jeal, of Nelson Ward - a residents’ parking zone - believes the move shows little care for residents who have to live in Yarmouth for 52 weeks of the year.

“I am appalled by the decision. It just shows more care is being shown about tourism than residents who live here.

“In many ways the residential permit parking scheme is working quite well. They never tried putting the fees up to cover the deficit and I feel putting parking meters in the zone, and giving the residents a chance to purchase a permit, is a better way of bringing income in.”

The decision to recommend the scheme be scrapped comes after a Norfolk County Council consultation of 2,100 properties within the parking zone which asked for peoples’ views on the introduction of “pay and display” to help fund the permit parking shortfall.

The response saw 47 replies in favour of the proposal, 39 replies in objection, a 15 signature petition in objection, as well as further objections from the Residents Association and the Tourist Authority.

Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “Given the cost of the residents’ parking scheme and the mounting financial loss in each year of its operation, the Steering Group vote is understandable.

“But there are a number of factors that need to be weighed carefully before a decision is made, not least the views of local people and the borough council, and also the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement.”

Last year’s deficit from the residents’ permit parking scheme was paid for by more than �200,000 made from the seafront on street pay and display scheme.

There has to be a period of consultation by the county council, with the borough council as a consultee, before a decision can be made.

Currently, a resident’s permit costs �25 annually, whilst a business permit costs �100.

More than 610 residential permits, and 840 visitor permits, were issued between April 2010 and March 2011. Seventy business permits and 140 business visitor permits were issued over the same period.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Write to Letters at The Mercury, 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth NR30 2PA or email anne.edwards@archant.co.uk