Concern as Covid test centre takes spaces away from shoppers

A resident has approached his district councillor after being unable to park

A resident has approached his district councillor after being unable to park in Dereham's Cherry Tree car park due to the coronavirus testing centre - Credit: Abigail Nicholson

Concerns have been raised after residents were left unable to park in a town's car park due to a testing centre taking up a quarter of the spaces.

The fenced-off area at the back of the Cherry Tree Car Park taking up around a quarter of the spaces.

The fenced-off area at the back of the Cherry Tree Car Park taking up around a quarter of the spaces. - Credit: Abigail Nicholson

A resident, who did not want to be named, contacted their local district councillor after being unable to park in Dereham's Cherry Tree Car Park due to the new coronavirus testing centre.

The car park, which has 466 spaces, currently has a quarter of those spaces fenced off at the back to house a testing centre which is in operation twice a week during the day.

Dereham's cherry Tree Car Park on Tuesday, April 20 at 2pm

Dereham's cherry Tree Car Park on Tuesday, April 20 at 2pm - Credit: Abigail Nicholson

The back section of the car park, run by Breckland Council, remains sectioned off when the test centre is not in use.

The resident said: "I couldn't get into the car park because test and race are there, as you can only use the facility if you drive through, why not have it at the empty car park in front of Breckland's offices?

A picture of the car park outside Breckland Council's offices in Dereham

A picture of the car park outside Breckland Council's offices in Dereham, where the resident said the test centre should be placed. - Credit: Submitted

"Otherwise space for shoppers and workers in Dereham is being used up."

Harry Clarke, Labour councillor for Dereham Withburga, said he had not seen the test centre as he has been shielding but mentioned that the resident "may have a point".

He added: "I'm all for people getting tested for Covid and I'm sure it hasn't been done deliberately.

"Sometimes things have unintended consequences potentially, we all need to be a bit patient at present."

Mr Clarke also said he was "concerned" people in the town who do not have a car, van or motorcycle would not be able to use the test centre.

Breckland District councillor Harry Clarke. Picture: Harry Clarke

Breckland District councillor Harry Clarke. Picture: Harry Clarke - Credit: Archant

He said: "I can't help but notice 21pc of people in my ward do not have a car.

"Of course it's good that the lateral flow weekly tests can be ordered or collected from pharmacies but the point still stands."

Since this article was published the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed the mobile testing unit at the Cherry Tree offers both drive-in and pedestrian appointments every Tuesday and Saturday.

A spokesperson said: "It is one of 34 local walk-through test sites in the southeast and there are more than 520 operating across the UK.”

Breckland Council were approached for comment.

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