The problem of Downham’s blocked car parks could be a step closer to being solved after councillors agreed to hold a public consultation.
Downham Town Council will be asking for shoppers, traders and residents’ views on whether car parking charges should be introduced.
A study commissioned by the council has found the town needs an additional 40 spaces after the car parks were found to be at capacity. Consultants Alpha Parking have also suggested that a form of charging is needed.
Members of the council’s property committee agreed on Tuesday to go ahead to the next stage and hold a public consultation.
Speaking at the meeting in the town council offices Malcolm Starreveld said: “We know the car parks are at capacity.
“We are in a very difficult situation. It is about trying to manage the problem and not just charging.
“It is a very tricky situation to have everyone feel happy about it.
“We have been asked by the shopkeepers and members of the public to look at the car parks. We are going down this process and have to explore it properly.”
Committee member John Doyle stressed that no decision has been taken on charging and Charlie Pyatt asked if further monitoring of the car parks could take place.
But Becky Judge said monitoring has taken place to give the council a bench mark and could delay the process.
She said: “We know the flow of the car parks. To keep monitoring won’t add value.”
Committee chairman Robin Pegg told the meeting: “When I came into town on a busy morning, I saw eight vacant spaces in the Hollies.
“Down the road, on the double yellow lines, it was packed with cars which were all parked illegally.”
The committee has also agreed to liaise with Norfolk County Council and will hold a public consultation as soon as possible. No date has been set.
Trader Lawrence Welham said the car parks have been discussed since the 1970s.
Mr Welham said: “The car parks are being used by people who walk up to the station early in the morning and park free all day. If that situation could be managed, it would free up a lot of spaces.
“The poor turnover of cars in the car parks are strangling the town.
“Customers have said they don’t mind paying as they know they can get parked.”