NORTH Petherton’s Community Centre committee is looking at bringing in a private company to clamp down on motorists abusing the free parking in the facility’s car park.

Committee chairman Mike Tompsett ran through the plans with North Petherton Town Council at their latest meeting on Monday, November 5.

“We have been looking into ways to improve the parking situation at the community centre,” Mr Tompsett said.

“We think the best solution is to install an automatic numberplate recognition system.

“This will mean the two hours free parking will remain in place, but if people go over that they will have to pay at the machine.”

Mr Tompsett said currently too many people were using the car park to park all day for the likes of coach trips, but as a team of volunteers it was very difficult to enforce the two hour rule.

If agreed the deal would be in place with the company for a minimum of five years.

Mayor of North Petherton Cllr Alan Bradford said: “We all know we have a massive problem with parking. We have a growing population and limited places to park.

“I personally think it would be a good idea to undertake some form of consultation with the community on this and get the views and input of the public.”

However, Mr Tompsett was slightly concerned with this proposal.

“If they do not like should we not press ahead?” said Mr Tompsett.

Cllr Marion Denham said she did not feel it was appropriate for a private company to make money from fining people at a community centre car park, while Cllr Bill Revans said he felt he would like to see it used on a trial basis before it was fully implemented for the five-year period.

Cllr Julian Taylor added he would like to see hard data produced on how often the car park was so full that legitimate users of the centre were forced to park elsewhere.

He added: “In my personal experience I have rarely seen the car park full so I do not know how necessary installing the ANPR technology would be.”

Mr Tompsett said the committee did not have the data Cllr Taylor required, reiterating that the North Petherton Community Centre was run by volunteers.

He said there would be clauses within the agreement that would allow free parking for longer than two hours in certain circumstances such as when there was a community fete at St Mary’s Church where volunteers would be helping out all day.