Local car parking is constantly a bit of a hot potato.
We crave a healthy retail environment and sensible car parking plays a big part.
Some time ago, a scheme was implemented to have every piece of available space in our centre made available for car parking.
Nationally, high street trading has suffered over these last few years and we are no different.
Empty retail units have not attracted the sort of businesses we wish to see.
Charity shops have taken up leases and to date we have nine, with perhaps two more soon joining us.
Arising out of all this is the certainty that our present parking policy is not adequate, despite us advertising widely that we allow “free parking” in the town centre.
Many motorists will know to their cost that West Norfolk Council, on behalf of the Breckland council. monitor much of our car parking, mostly roadside parking and loading bays.
However, their wardens do not monitor any parking on our main market place, the Pedlars car park, and perhaps one or two other parking areas.
These areas all have a two hour restriction but, being unmonitored, motorists have quickly got to know, over time, that they are safe in parking for longer.
Indeed, some motorists park up all day with apparent impunity.
This has had the effect of seriously reducing parking spaces for shoppers, with the stated two hour limit being more than enough time for most shopping.
And, if this is not so then there is a large and totally free car park within two hundred metres of our centre.
It was interesting to read recently that a West Norfolk Council spokesman said: “As far as we are concerned, the roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.”
That may be so as they have been presented to them by Breckland, but plainly more needs to be done, by either them or more likely someone else.
The present parking restrictions in Swaffham are fine, if they are properly enforced.
We do not require parking charges in our town and introducing them will further harm our town centre shops.
“Churn” is a much used word these days and “routine churn” could very easily apply to our car parking.
A two hour turnover of parked cars would certainly work in our retailers’ favour.
We do not require the amount of blacktop we presently have. More greenery, perhaps a water feature ? Reduction in pollution and we might even get some small birds back!
Another item that does need addressing and which was not acted on, despite a strong recommendation being made by the public a couple of years ago, was the need to make a suitable access to the Theatre Street car park from the south end.
Traffic coming into town from this direction would be given well signed information that the turning at Globe Hill will lead them to a free (all day) car park close to the town centre.
That would mean we would have less traffic using London Street and coming into town.
Whatever happened to this sensible and easily implemented suggestion, and indeed some similar common sense being applied elsewhere?