Special meeting held to debate Fakenham car park sale plan

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Fakenham’s town council chamber was packed last night for a special meeting to debate plans to sell off the town’s Highfield Road car park for housing.

Earlier this week, North Norfolk District Council announced they were considering selling the site, plus three others in the district.

A report on the scheme, together with plans to freeze council tax for a seventh straight year, will be debated at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Deputy mayor George Acheson, who chaired the meeting, said: “The district council needs to raise its income following serious government cuts so that its services can be maintained.

“This car park is a significant asset which it proposes to put on the market for the building of 44 apartments for people aged 55 and over.

“Residents of Church Lanes, who have historically parked their cars on the site, would be provided with space to continue doing so.”

Mr Acheson added that, as the district council owns the car park, there is little the town council could do to stop a sale proceeding.

But local residents raised concerns about the potential for increased roadside parking and greater pressure on the area’s doctors’ surgery.

Some were also disappointed at the loss of what they saw as a valuable town asset.

But Roy Reynolds, one of the town’s four district councillors, said the cost of upgrading the car park to pay and display standards was prohibitive.

He said that, in its present state, it was unsightly and used on average by around 45 cars.

John Rest said the site was the only free car park in the district and it would be unfair for it to remain so.

He claimed It would never make money and its present condition on one of the main approaches to the town was an eyesore.

And Jeremy Punchard pointed out that the district council had frozen council tax for the past seven years.

He said that continuing that pattern meant either a cut in services or the raising of revenue from other sources.

Ahead of the meeting, North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said: “In what continue to be challenging times for local government, we know it is vital to maintain a good control over public finances.

“These proposals would help to maximise the return from our assets for the benefit of our community and the public purse.”