Agenda and minutes

Venue: Attleborough Town Hall

Contact: Member Services  01362 656870

No. Item


Election of a Chairman


The Member Development and Scrutiny Officer (MDSO) opened the meeting by explaining that the former Chairman was unable to continue serving on this Group as he had now become a member of the Cabinet.     


In lieu of a new Chairman being confirmed, and after being duly nominated and seconded, it was  


Agreed  that Mrs S. M Matthews would act as Chairman for this meeting.



Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2009.


It was noted that the representative who had attended from the Norfolk Constabulary had been Inspector Hayes, not Bates.  


Subject to this amendment, the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2009 were confirmed as a correct record.



Apologies (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mrs D. Irving.


The MDSO gave an apology on behalf of Ricky Wright from North Norfolk District Council.   (He had been invited to speak at the meeting but was unable to attend for family reasons.)



Car Park Research in Attleborough (Agenda Item 5)

The Member Development and Scrutiny Officer will give a brief verbal report following the completion of the fieldwork.


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.  Members of the Working Group and guest speakers were asked to briefly introduce themselves to those present.


The MDSO then gave a brief update of progress on the commissioned research since the last meeting which had been held on 13 October at the Connaught Hall.     Students from the UEA Business School had commenced work on their study and had used Attleborough as the pilot stage.  They were due to present a full breakdown of their findings to the Group at the next meeting on 10 December 2009.  


A brief overview of the Attleborough results included the following points of interest: 


  • The survey had been undertaken over the fortnight 19-31 October, including Saturday 24th, but not Sunday 25th.      


  • Areas covered during the exercise included: 


  • Various days/times of the week car parking facilities were used.
  • Modes of travel.
  • Frequency of visits.
  • Length of parking.
  • Car parks used most frequently.
  • Views on charging and enforcement methods.
  • Views on Congestion.


  • The sample size had been 911.  (1,000 was the nominal maximum.)


  • Age range of respondents: 16-92.


  • Gender balance of respondents: 57% female / 43% male.


  • Time range: 06.55 – 1830 (with peak times noted as 10.30, but with 08.30, 13.00 and 15.00 as flash points).


  • Other key statistics included: 


  • Queen’s Square               :   nearly 50% of respondents.
  • Sainsbury’s car park      :   nearly 40% of respondents.
  • Railway station               :  15% of respondents. 


  • 55% of respondents lived in Attleborough.
  • 40% were from nearby rural villages.
  • 5% were from further away – Norwich etc.


  • 62% of those questioned had arrived by car.
  • 47% were shopping.
  • 20% were commuters.


The MDSO mentioned that the survey had produced some interesting paradoxes.   


On the question of whether consideration should be given to building a multi-storey car park for Attleborough, most respondents had strongly disagreed; however 30% had agreed that Attleborough needed more town centre car parking.


He concluded the update by reiterating that full results would be reported at the next meeting on the 10 December. 


A Member queried whether the survey had included noting the number of cars which had clearly been parked overnight.  The MDSO said that this would hopefully be answered by the presentation in December. 


There was some discussion about the venue for the next meeting, as it was felt that it should perhaps be held in Attleborough so that local residents could attend.   However, the Chairman reminded everyone that, at this stage, the Group were embarked on an information-gathering exercise: the emphasis therefore needed to be on listening to, and focussing on, research-based evidence, rather than debating the ‘pros and cons’ more widely.    It was also acknowledged that as the UEA group had specifically requested presentation facilities, it was likely to be difficult to find a suitable venue in Attleborough at such relatively short notice.


Members noted the report.  The Chairman confirmed that the next meeting would be held at Elizabeth House in Dereham at 14.00 on Thursday, 10 December, but with the aim  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Car Parking Enforcement Regimes (Agenda Item 6)

  • Representatives from North Norfolk and South Norfolk District Councils have been invited to outline their respective off-street parking enforcement regimes. 


  • Further examples will be given of enforcement regimes currently in place in Breckland.


Presentation by Representatives from South Norfolk District Council


Michelle Earp (Car Parking Manager) and David McCall (Car Park Inspector), had been invited to outline South Norfolk District Council’s off-street parking enforcement regimes. 


Michelle began by saying that she had been in post for about 18 months and that David was one of two Inspectors who covered their District.


Key points made were:


  • South Norfolk have had car parking charges in Diss since 1986.

     (8 x car parks)


  • Also in Wymondham since 2001.

     (4 x car parks)


  • Charges had only been introduced in Loddon  in 2008.

     (2 x car parks)


  • A total of 14 ticket machines had been installed throughout the District.


  • South Norfolk did not operate a ‘blue badge’ system.  However, if all disabled spaces were in use, then disabled drivers were entitled to use other slots free of charge. 


  • Excess charges were administered by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.  This was essentially because they had good administrative systems in place, and it therefore made sense from a financial perspective to engage in collaborative working.


  • Excess charges were £20 for payment within 7 days and £50 for payment within 14 days.   However they generally tried to take a ‘softly, softly’ approach when pursuing excess charges.


  • Across the District approximately 50 parking tickets were issued per week.  


  • Season tickets were available at a cost of £200 per year and were available for local residents and workers.


  • In order to facilitate a continuous flow, season tickets were limited to 50% of spaces in each car park.


  • METRIC were the company employed to maintain the ticket machines and they were obliged to attend within 16 hours to fix any problems.  The current contract cost £380 per year, per machine (i.e. x 14).


  • The total number of car parking spaces across the district was 800.


  • There was no overnight charging (08.00 – 18.00), nor on Sundays or Bank Holidays.


A Member then asked whether or not South Norfolk District Council made any money from car parking charges.


Michelle Earp indicated that this was not really the case, since any profits were ploughed directly back into car park maintenance and improvements (resurfacing/lighting etc) across the District.


Another Member commented that in Attleborough there was a mix of District Council-owned and Supermarket, or privately-owned, car parks.   He assumed this would be the case in many towns and also wondered if, when charges were first introduced in Loddon, many users had simply switched from car parks to on-street parking.


Michelle Earp acknowledged that this had initially happened in Loddon and on-street parking (including directly outside businesses or in residential streets), had become something of a problem.   However, this had settled down, since the season tickets were relatively cheap and, over time, people had adapted.  Indeed, many had reverted to using car parks, despite the charges, chiefly because of their more convenient locations and the relative ease of finding a space.   She added that South Norfolk District Council had no jurisdiction over on-street parking.


She also added that where they had no other car parking  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23a


Presentation from Swaffham Town Council


Richard Bishop (Town Clerk) was in attendance to represent Swaffham Town Council.  He tabled a ‘SWOT’ analysis and explained that Swaffham had managed its car parking enforcement on an agency basis for about ten years.    It was the only market town in Breckland to have an agency arrangement.   However, this was on a small scale, with a car parking attendant being assigned to work for few hours each week.  Funding for the salary came from Breckland District Council and the Town Council itself. 


In order to maximise the impact, it had been agreed that the time spent on patrolling (as opposed to the administrative part of the role) would be ad hoc, rather than for specific time slots each week.   By working in a random pattern, it was hoped to give an impression that more overall hours were worked, thereby deterring public complacency. 


He acknowledged that the open layout in the centre of Swaffham posed unique challenges in terms of on-street, as against off-street parking.   The fact that different parking designations sometimes existed side-by-side with each other, led to some confusion and anger when members of the public were given parking tickets, not least because of the difference in enforcement levels (Breckland fines were £12.00, whilst the police charged £35.00).  It was felt that the centralisation - and decriminalisation - of parking arrangements would be of definite benefit to the town.  However, whilst the problems were recognised, it was not so easy to find a solution which would be practical and easily manageable.


In terms of hours worked, the current contract comprised 6 hours, but it was felt that an increase to 12-15 hours per week would enable the agency – and thus Town Council – to provide a much better level of service.   As an example, he cited recent media interest in the town (as well as during the filming of Kingdom).  On such occasions it would generally be helpful if the car parking attendant could be on duty. 


Other key points Richard Bishop raised included: 


  • There was a large car park at Theatre Street, which was about 400 yards from the Town Centre and was frequently under-used.   This could accommodate local employees free of charge, resulting in the potential for targeted charged parking in the centre of town.


  • Alternatively, there could be a tiered charging system, with free parking for the first two hours.    If this were to be introduced, local employees would need to apply for season tickets.


  • It was essential that the parking system in front of the Assembly Rooms enabled frequent turnover of spaces since this was a particularly busy venue.


  • The area known as “The Shambles” directly behind the Assembly Rooms was not a Breckland-owned car park.   The Town Council had expressed an interest in running this, perhaps with local businesses paying a fee to issue permits for local employees.    However, it was noted that ironically, once this sort of informal parking space became formalised, then usually the actual space available for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23b


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 7)

To note that the next meeting will be held on Thursday, 10 December at 14.00 in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham.


It was AGREED that:


1.      The next meeting would be held at 14.00 on Thursday, 10 December in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham.


2.      Attleborough Town Council representatives should be invited to outline results from their own research into local attitudes towards car parking facilities and enforcement.


3.      The representative from North Norfolk District Council, who had been unable to attend this meeting, should also be re-invited to attend. 


4.      There would be a public meeting held in Attleborough in the New Year.