Free parking for Christmas shoppers? Not this year, says council
- Credit: Archant
Traders have been left disappointed a council is not offering its usual two days of free parking in the lead-up to Christmas because of 'government coronavirus guidance'.
In past years, North Norfolk District Council has waived fees at its car parks in North Walsham, Cromer, Fakenham, Stalham, Wells, Holt and Sheringham for two days in late November or December.
Although that is not the case this year, the council said it would offer two days' worth of free parking in the New Year.
John Roseby, Sheringham Chamber of Trade, said: "I'm quite disappointed. I understand that there are concerns about crowds of people but it is a real shame. If they had offered free parking over summer it's the visitors that would have taken advantage of it, but at this time of year it would have just been a bit of help to local people."
Mr Roseby said Sheringham had worked hard during the first lockdown to start a one-way pedestrian system and other measures to encourage social distancing and keep people safe.
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He said: "The car parks were chock-a-block after the first lockdown right up until September and there were a lot people walking around town, but the vast majority stuck to the measures - we were surprised how well it worked.
"A few days' free car parking between now and Christmas would not have the same impact as the crowds that visited then."
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Sam Grout, president of the Cromer Chamber of Trade, added: "Without a doubt it's disappointing. There's always a rallying call at Christmas to encourage people to shop local and it does always help having those two free days.
"In terms of the New Year, there's still a lot of uncertainty about how things will be and what restrictions will be like then, so finding a suitable time where free parking stands to benefit us will certainly take some thought."
But a spokesman for the council said it did want to encourage people to shop local.
Councillor Richard Kershaw, portfolio holder for sustainable growth, said: “This Christmas, we ask that you consider shopping closer to home, where your custom will be most appreciated. In doing so, you will be helping to keep North Norfolk safe and providing vital trade for local businesses, many of whom are keen to serve you after a second period of national lockdown.
“Our local businesses have been a great support to the community during the Covid crisis helping deliver supplies to residents and donating to foodbanks and resilience centres. We can return the favour by shopping locally this Christmas."
This newspaper has also launched a Shop Local campaign.