Council criticised over plans for more free parking space in King’s Lynn and Hunstanton

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Moves to provide more free parking spaces in Lynn and Hunstanton are set to be challenged at a meeting next week, it has emerged.

Last month, plans were unveiled to provide four free 20 minute spaces in the Baker Lane and Austin Street car parks, plus six at the Valentine Road site in Hunstanton.

But the proposal is now set to be debated by West Norfolk Council’s cabinet scrutiny committee next Thursday, October 23, after a challenge was submitted by Labour councillor Ian Gourlay.

Council leaders have said the scheme will encourage shoppers into the town centres and has been supported by the business community.

In papers published ahead of the meeting, Chris Bamfield, the council’s head of leisure and public space, said parking revenues in the period from January to August this year were up by around £19,000, to £1.534 million, compared to 2013, even with the introduction of the 21 free spaces in Lynn’s Tuesday Market Place.

And, over the same period, more than 70,000 drivers have used the spaces, an average of around 330 every day.

But Mr Gourlay, who represents the Fairstead ward, claims the plan has not taken the council’s current £100,000 budget for parking promotions into account and has called for the authority’s auditors to examine its costs.

He also accused the Conservative administration of failing to consult key groups on the plan, adding: “There has been no debate with disabled groups, cyclists or other people, who want to see less traffic pollution.”

But officials say the cost of introducing the free spaces, an estimated £14,000, will be taken from the existing parking promotions budget.

Mr Bamfield said it was “difficult” to identify any problems with the scheme, adding: “Any impact from the additional bays is considered to be minimal.”

Labour group leader John Collop, Labour councillors Sandra Collop and Gary McGuinness, plus independent Richard Bird have supported the call-in.