U-turn over keypad use at King’s Lynn and Hunstanton car parks

2014 Allotment Challenge and Front Garden Competition held at Kings Lynn Town Hall.''Winners of Best Self Managed Site Drakes Field left to right Tony Pinder and Cllr David Pope
2014 Allotment Challenge and Front Garden Competition held at Kings Lynn Town Hall.''Winners of Best Self Managed Site Drakes Field left to right Tony Pinder and Cllr David Pope
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West Norfolk Council chiefs have performed a U-turn over plans to force drivers to type in their registration numbers when they park up.

In October, the authority indicated it would re-introduce the use of keypads on its car parks in Lynn and Hunstanton, nearly two years after they were switched off.

But that sparked a hostile reaction from many readers who contacted the Lynn News, telling us they didn’t want the practice reinstated.

And, during Thursday’s full council meeting, David Pope, the cabinet member responsible for parking, confirmed the change of heart.

He told members he wanted to “correct” his earlier statement and said there had been “quite a lot of constructive criticism” of the plan.

He went on: “I spoke to the leader and we have agreed we will pull the project for the foreseeable future.”

Labour group leader John Collop welcomed the decision, saying: “It’s good to hear him admit he wasn’t quite correct.”

And, following the meeting, fellow Labour councillor Gary McGuinness, who had initially raised the issue, took to Twitter to compare Mr Pope to chancellor George Osborne.

He said: “Cllr Pope is in good company this week as a Tory Cabinet member making a U-turn.”

The current set of parking ticket machines was installed in June 2013, when the practice of asking drivers to type in their registration numbers when they arrive was first introduced.

But the system was turned off in November of that year after many complaints that drivers could not see the pads in the dark.

At an earlier meeting, Mr Pope said those issues had been addressed by the installation of new keypads with brighter lettering on them.

But critics claimed they were too low and suggested that implementing the practice may put people off shopping in the town centre altogether.

And one of the readers who contacted us following the original announcement, Audrey Fountain from Gayton, yesterday welcomed the change of heart.

She said: “That’s absolutely brilliant. I’m very happy about that.

“I think it’s a very wise decision on their part. I was thinking why would we need to use their car parks if they treat us like that.

“We could use the supermarkets, get everything we need there and they would lose out totally. I think this will please most people.”

However, despite the climbdown, Mr Pope said the pads will still be used in a new scheme for parking permits, which is likely to be introduced in the new year.

He also revealed that around 100 people had already signed up for a new system through which drivers can pay for parking by phone.