'Grave concerns' over bid to charge for parking at Roman fort
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
Proposed charges for parking at an ancient site popular with walkers has prompted concern about the impact on local roads.
Norfolk Archaeological Trust has announced it is considering fees for visitors who use the car park at the Roman fort in Burgh Castle.
Natalie Butler, director, said the plan had been forced on the trust as "a last resort" as a result of diminished funds.
"We need to raise more money urgently so that our sites continue to be protected, safe and accessible for visitors," she said.
And while local councillors, at both county and parish level, have expressed sympathy with the trust's position, they are predicting the end of free parking would lead visitors to avoid the car park altogether and instead park on neighbouring roads.
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Carl Smith, Norfolk county councillor, said he was "totally against" the proposed charges.
"People won't use the car park and it will cause serious problems around the site, on Butt Lane, Church Road and the Church triangle," he said.
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He added: "I would be willing to speak with the trust to see if there is any other way to get funding."
Brian Swan, chairman of Burgh Castle Parish Council, said: "Everybody on the parish council is against it. We have grave concerns over the impact it will have on parking on the roads, both in terms of safety and general disruption.
"We know they need to raise money but this is going to be a major issue. The parish council will keep talking to the trust and hopefully there will be a solution."
The proposed charges are:
- Up to one hour: £1
- Up to four hours: £3
- All day until 8pm: £5
The trust manages 10 sites across Norfolk with a total budget of approximately £88,000 - but Ms Butler said that funding restraints were having a negative impact on the standard of maintenance at the sites.
In 2016, a change in farm payment schemes resulted in a decrease of funding from just over £6,000 to £2,700 annually for upkeep and conservation at Burgh Castle.
"This has already had an impact on the level of repair and maintenance we can complete each year," the director said.