Council opt to scrap parking fee plans

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Parking in Thetford should remain free to town centre shoppers after Breckland Council backed scrapping parking fee plans.

The council’s feasibility study had shown that charging for parking in Thetford, Dereham, Watton, Swaffham and Attleborough could bring in more than £825,000 a year in profit.

But William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council, said his Conservative group had listened to public opinion and decided that raising council tax was the best way to deal with necessary savings.

“We have always wanted to keep parking free and it’s in our manifesto.

“The feasibility study told us what we needed to know to make an informed decision but it was clear from public consultation that car parking was by far and away the most controversial issue for residents.

“We recognise that in these times when market towns are struggling, we need to do all we can to help their vitality,” he said.

Cllr Terry Jermy, leader of Breckland’s Labour Group andmember of the Sort-It group, said the decision was a ‘welcome surprise’.

Cllr Jermy was part of a group of campaigners who gathered 15,000 signatures for a petition against parking charges.

“Free parking is a draw for people to come and visit Thetford’s high street and when you look at our competition, we need to keep hold of it.

“If you live in Thetford you take it for granted that you can park for free, but we’re lucky to have it,” he said.

Breckland raised Council Tax by 7.8 per cent a year. The rise will see Band D properties pay an extra £4.98 a year.

Despite the rise, Breckland’s Council Tax remains the lowest for a district in the country, according to Cllr Nunn.