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UPDATE: Working group to examine Norfolk council staff parking charge plan

A working group will be set up to examine proposals to charge Norfolk County Council staff to park at the authority’s buildings.

Officials have proposed the introduction of a system where the amount workers pay is determined by their salary, with more senior, better paid staff being charged more.

But the idea has already been criticised by some councillors and union officials, who fear it will hit the lowest-paid hardest and effectively amounts to a tax on coming to work.

This morning, a meeting of the county council’s policy and resources committee agreed to set up a working group to look into the matter.

The body will include representatives of all political groups and the Unison trade union.

A new report is now expected to come to the committee’s meeting in November, which will then make recommendations to full council.

Jonathan Dunning, secretary of the council’s Unison branch, said: “We’ve been invited to attend and, as it is about managing car park capacity, will do so. We’re pleased that councillors pulled back from imposing charges.”

But independent councillor Alexandra Kemp, who branded the idea “disgraceful” and “selfish”, said the committee had not gone far enough.

She said: “This idea needs to be stopped. It is a step too far and it’s a waste of a working group to be setting it up at all.”

She claims a majority of councillors are opposed to the idea of charges.

And she believes the council should be concentrating on improving public transport links to its County Hall headquarters, which she said are not currently good enough to justify the introduction of parking charges.

However, UKIP group leader Toby Coke said he saw “nothing wrong” with the idea of charging, which he said was commonly used by other large organisations.

He insisted the authority would face a severe shortage of space, as other council buildings are sold off, without radical action.

He said: “The principle of charging is right and it’s quite right people on higher salaries should pay more.

“We have got to face this problem and hopefully the working group will come up with something that is acceptable. It’s no good burying our heads in the sand.”

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