Poll: Which option for car parking charges in Breckland do you support?

You are being asked to vote on three car parking charge options in Dereham – but Breckland Council said it could not guarantee it would implement the most popular.

The alternatives were unveiled at a series of public meetings asking residents which services the council should cut, reduce, charge for or maintain as it struggles to fill a projected �3m budget gap over five years.

Addressing about 70 members of the public at a meeting in Dereham last Thursday, council leader William Nunn said offering free parking across the district costs Breckland �300,000 a year.

He outlined three options: introducing an hourly fee to raise �300,000; charging after the first one or two hours to raise �150,000, or keeping it free at a cost of �300,000.

Permits or long-stay parking for people who work in Dereham are being considered.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Nunn said the council might not chose the most popular course because it does not yet have information about the cost of introducing a charging regime, the level of charges or how much income they would raise.

He said: 'What we were hoping to do through the public meetings was to get a feeling for what people feel about it.'

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He added he would be opposed to any parking charges being used as a stealth tax in future, and favoured any surplus funding local projects in towns and villages.

Philip Morter, who runs Bennetts in Norwich Street, said: 'We have customers who come from Easton, Hingham, Attleborough and Wymondham. They come to market days, have lunch in town, do all their shopping and make a day of it because there's free parking, but they won't come if car parking charges are imposed.'

Residents can vote on www.breckland.gov.uk, by ordering a copy of the survey from 01362 656870, or at the last public meeting in Watton Queens Hall on Tuesday at 7pm. The deadline is October 5.