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Residents and traders demand action to solve Downham Marketparking crisis

Hollies Car Park at Downham Market GV's ANL-151028-195300009
Hollies Car Park at Downham Market GV's ANL-151028-195300009

Shoppers, residents and traders are calling for the parking problems in Downham to be resolved.

Trader Peter Martin last week called for greater enforcement in the town’s car parks in a bid to free up spaces for shoppers but Mayor John Fox said Downham Town Council could not afford such a move.

The council has agreed to hold a public consultation on how to solve the problem. Consultants have recommended an additional 40 spaces along with some form of charging

People who live, work and shop in the town have since written in to share their experiences.

Christine Drew said parking in the town was a “nightmare” and no longer uses the town.

She said: “I don’t go there to do my weekly shop anymore, I go Lynn.

“I took my disabled mother-in-law and drove around for 20 minutes had to drop her in town and park outside.”

Rebecca Elliott has suggested that the council use the £5,000 spent on the parking survey with Alpha Parking on employing a part-time warden.

She said: “The future of the town relies on carefully balancing the needs of us all.

“There are other options that have not been considered such as maximising the spaces available on existing car parks or working in conjunction with the owners of any available land on the outskirts of Downham.”

Lee Marchant has questioned how claims of commuters blocking the car parks have been proved and has suggested the creation of a car park on land near Heygates Mill.

Mr Marchant says the problem got worse after pay and display was introduced in the Wales Court Car Park.

He also said “poor management” by the town council has resulted in the loss of a number of spaces due to taxi ranks, laybys, double yellow lines and planters.

Mr Marchant added: “Any proposed parking charges would go a long way toward the cost of petrol to Wisbech, the Hardwck shopping area, Swaffham or Ely where parking is free and there exist a far better selection of shops.

“If the council introduces parking charges it will kill the town centre.”

Nigel Canham, of Stoke Ferry, has suggested a park and ride service. He said: “The ideal place for such a system to operate from would be the Howdale. There is already a rough and ready car parking area there opposite the Public Conveniences.”

Another reader, who did not wish to be named, said: “I have been into town in the car on more than one occasion, only to turn around and go home again due to a lack of parking spaces. I now also use the post office in Denver instead of the one in town, as I can park outside for a few minutes. In Downham, it is virtually impossible to park for a short period of time without paying, which I refuse to do, unless you want to park at about 11pm at night.”

Mr Martin, who owns Spoilt for Choice and is a Downham resident, was unhappy with the mayor’s comments last week about traders not living in the town.

He said: “Does he not realise how hard we work to make a living and to make the town what it is? All we are asking for is for them to police the town car parks and to make it grow rather than stifle it.”

Mayor Mr Fox said the town council’s sub-committee is working as fast as it can on this issue and that it could cost a “five figure” sum to bring in West Norfolk Council or a private contractor to police the car parks.

He said: “The town council is endeavouring to do things to resolve the problems we cannot afford to make an error. We would have to do everything legally and properly and things don’t happen overnight. Therefore it is going to take time to get it sorted.”

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