A PETITION to make sure Breckland towns do not lose their free parking has attracted almost 20,000 signatures.
Breckland Council revealed in December that it would be carrying out a feasibility study into parking charges in the market towns of Thetford, Dereham, Swaffham, Attleborough and Watton at a cost of £25,000 to taxpayers.
But according to Cllr Terry Jermy, leader of Breckland Labour Group, a petition against charges had attracted almost 20,000 signatures across the district.
He said residents had been telling him parking charges would be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for Thetford’s high street.
“It would make sense to look at charging when the high street is booming but at the moment people think it could be disastrous,” he said.
Derek Mortimer, mayor of Thetford Town Council, said the authority would oppose any plans to charge for parking and that it would sound the ‘death knell’ for the town centre.
“The town centre is already being affected by supermarkets at either end of the town and it would be bad news for market traders,” he said.
William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council, said the study was the only way the council could properly assess what services and assets it could keep as it attempts to make savings of £3.5 million over the next five years.
“We have kept parking free for years but we need to look at where we can save money.
“I don’t think it will be the death of any town centre if it’s implemented properly,” he said.