Committee head hopes to introduce car parking charges in Downham Market by spring

Hollies Car Park at Downham Market GV's ANL-151028-195300009
Hollies Car Park at Downham Market GV's ANL-151028-195300009
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Charges could be imposed on Downham’s blocked car parks by next spring says a councillor.

Traders in Downham are demanding action is taken with the town’s car parks which are clogged up with workers and shoppers.

Town councillors agreed at a meeting on Tuesday to go ahead with a public meeting and to seek tenders for firms willing to take on the management of the car parks, which would include the charging and monitoring.

Chairman of the car park management strategy committee Jeffrey Reed said he hoped to have a public meeting by Christmas.

Mr Reed said: “Car park tendering and charges could be in place by spring. I can’t say for sure.

“Things are not easy for traders and I think it is important we get this in place.

“Despite the inconvenience there are places people can park.

“If people can come into town and park they will be more likely to use the shops. I think they will have a beneficial effect.”

Last year the council brought in a consultant to survey the town’s car parks.

During that survey, Alpha Parking found that the parks are either full or at 95 per cent capacity.

It also warned that the town needs an additional 40 parking spaces over the next five years and that some form of charging can only achieve the investment.

Under the proposals, shoppers would be able to park for free for the first hour.

Charges could then go to 60p for the second hour and £1 for the following hour. The daily charge would be £3.

Last year, Napier Parking introduced charges to its site in Wales Court.

Mr Reed said the car park has achieved 74 per cent occupancy since charges were introduced.

One trader Peter Martin, who runs Spoilt for Choice, has been calling for action to be taken on the car parks.

He said: “Something has to be done.

“The only thing that concerns me is if they charge £1.50 for three hours is not going to give people a chance to go around the shops in Downham.”

He also has concerns about using private companies.