Buttercross: Answers needed to solve Swaffham Market Place parking problem

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Every morning, usually not too early, I take our little terrier out for his morning constitutional.

This particular morning was a sunny Monday and it gave me an opportunity to just stop by the Assembly Rooms and count the cars already parked on our market place and its surrounds.

Having reached three figures, I stopped. One can only wonder where on earth the drivers, and perhaps a few passengers, have disappeared to.

Having carried out a simple calculation one can arrive at the fact that well over 100 people have left the area, but to go where and to do what?

Certainly some have visited our shops and businesses which is good, but where on earth have the rest gone? The “two hour” parking limit appears to be being ignored by many, apparently with little monitoring going on.

Many townspeople will know that our market place, together with the Pedlar’s car park, come under the jurisdiction of the town council. The two hour limit was sensibly set in an attempt to increase the footfall in our town centre shops, many of which continue to struggle.

But it is plainly not working with no doubt some drivers getting to know they may well be able to park up all day with very little chance of being fined. Certainly the Breckland employed traffic wardens are much more active and keep the areas they control more in order.

Saturdays appear to be a particular problem. There is a time set before which the public cannot park, to enable the market stalls et al to be cleared. The Breckland wardens enforce this rigidly but the market place area has cars encroaching on it well before the permitted time. It’s wrong, inconsistent and annoying to motorists.

It is known that not too many years ago many commuters did park on our market place during the week, to then go off out of town to work, and perhaps this still happens. If it does it should be stopped, again to assist our traders.

Perhaps a survey should be carried out to ascertain what drivers are parking there for, be it shopping, visiting other businesses or other reasons. Then, we may be able to work out what needs to be done to better improve the shopping experience in our town centre.

I doubt many parking in the centre of town are even aware of the free parking available all day in the nearby Theatre Street car park.

It is poorly signposted and particularly from the A1065 coming in from the south. If this was better used during the week it would certainly ease the pressure on our market place, pressure that gets ever worse with the steadily increasing traffic on this road through town. Ever turning wheels producing ever increasing amounts of dust, noise, hazards and pollution and we unfortunately get no financial benefit from them arriving in our midst, this with them actually seeing the mass of cars presently parked, and then deciding to “just pass through”.