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Free parking set to stay after successful fight by community leaders

PUBLISHED: 12:29 26 December 2017

Charges are set to be introduced at the viewing area at Felixstowe. Picture: PETER WILES

Charges are set to be introduced at the viewing area at Felixstowe. Picture: PETER WILES

(c) copyright citizenside.com

Motorists are breathing a sigh of relief after community leaders fought hard to avoid Felixstowe losing all of its free parking.

Conservative councillor Andy Smith and Labour councillor Mike Deacon, supported by other town and district members, have successfully lobbied for plans to install pay-and-display machines at Manor Terrace, Eastward Ho (The Grove) and Garrison Lane car parks to be dropped.

The campaign also persuaded Suffolk Coastal council to keep the much-used free half-hour spaces for shoppers at the Highfield and Crescent car parks.

However, there will be charging at Landguard, though the first hour will be free.

Prices at most car parks will go up between 10-20% on average.

Members of Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet will meet on January 2 to agree the changes, which also have district-wide implications and have now been through two consultation exercises.

The aim is to raise extra cash to pay for the cost of taking over yellow lines enforcement from the police. The district council needs to find £178,000 more annually in income towards the £240,000 needed a year for the cost of its new role from April 2019.

The council does not expect issuing tickets to drivers parking on yellow lines and in restricted zones to cover the cost of running civil car parking.

While the return of “traffic wardens” will undoubtedly have an initial impact and raise substantial extra income, observers believe motorists will soon learn to park legally and avoid fines, reducing the among coming in each year.

Mr Deacon told the cabinet he was concerned the previous proposals would affect Felixstowe dramatically and the economy of the resort, for a number of reasons, was fragile. He felt that in supporting tourism and the economy of the town centre and businesses, parking must be seen as a service which attracts, rather than deters, visitors.

Mr Smith spoke against the possibility of parking meters along the seafront and stated this would directly drive people away. He said that car parks that were currently free in the town had been put in place because they were not amenable to charging.

He stressed the need for parking charges that would not destroy all the very successful management of car parks that had evolved over the years to support the economy of town centres and tourism.

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