Evening and weekend free parking could return to Great Yarmouth town centre

Evening and weekend free parking could return to Great Yarmouth town centre

Great Yarmouth’s struggling town centre could be set for a boost, with the option of free parking after 4pm on weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday on the table.

Recommendations given to Great Yarmouth Borough Council by the Town Centre Initiative (TCI) at a meeting on Tuesday evening outlined plans to remove the overnight charge on all town centre car parks, reverting to charges until 4pm only, and to also initiate a trial period of free parking on Saturdays and Sundays. Although no data exists to support the view that car parking charges are a barrier for the town centre, this is a concern of retailers, the TCI reported.

While the evening car parking would apply to all town centre car parks, the weekend trials would apply to the six with the highest capacity, namely Fullers Hill, Brewery Plain, Stonecutters Way, George Street, Greyfriars Way and King Street.

The weekend trial would run from October 2015 to March 2016.

Introducing the recommendations, Conservative councillor and council leader Graham Plant said: “It’s been said for a long time that what will help the town centre is free parking, and what we’re trying to do here is to help businesses in the town centre and put them on the same business footing as those out of town.”

The two part recommendation would see a reduction in income totalling £91,358, which would be made up by using a £1m reserve left by the former administration toward the TCI, which was launched as part of the budget in February with the aim of increasing footfall through the town centre, enhancing the economy and stimulating growth.

The recommendations, which were to be voted on at full council but have now been deferred to cabinet due to their nature being operational, were supported by all groups; however Labour expressed their concern over the exclusion of those who are unable to afford to drive.

Cllr Michael Jeal, for Labour, proposed an addition to the recommendations that the same proportion of funding given to the weekend trials – £70,832 – should be given to a bus company to subsidise trips into the town centre instead of just focussing on the “reasonably well off.” Labour Group leader Cllr Trevor Wainwright added there wasn’t any provision currently in place to continue the weekend parking past the trial period, if it went well. He questioned whether retailers would be asked to subsidise the initiative after the initial trial.

Despite this, Conservative Cllr Charles Reynolds highlighted that the main threat to the town centre, out of town shopping centres, does not offer free buses to their facilities and that around 70pc of those who use the bus are entitled to a free bus pass anyway. He added that the town centre is in a fragile situation which is of “grave concern.”

A vote to include the addition was lost, leading to Labour withdrawing their support for the recommendations to be made to cabinet. However, a majority voted to carry the recommendations forward to the next cabinet meeting on October 7.

This article was provided by Great Yarmouth Mercury     /http://www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/

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