Car park charges - decision delayed

A CONTROVERSIAL decision on introducing car parking charges in Mid Suffolk was delayed today.The charges are part of a package of proposals currently being debated by the cash-strapped Mid Suffolk Council.

A CONTROVERSIAL decision on introducing car parking charges in Mid Suffolk was delayed today.

The charges are part of a package of proposals currently being debated by the cash-strapped Mid Suffolk Council.

The council needs to find a £1.57 million pound budget shortfall following a lower than expected grant from central government and an increasing demand on its services.

The proposals would see pay and display machines introduced at car parks in Debenham, Needham Market and Eye.

But the topic caused much controversy among councillors at today's meeting of Mid Suffolk Council's executive committee.

The initial outlay for the introduction of the machines would be £135,000 and they would cost a further £88,000 to run each year.

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Wendy Marchant, councillor for Needham Market, said: "There will be a great financial outlay and financial risk in setting up these charges and there is no guarantee that the car parks will be used much once there are charges.

"The free parking is a benefit to shoppers, traders and visitors and a great asset for the viability of places like Needham Market."

Others believed parking charges were a viable alternative to an increase in council tax.

Chris Lawrence, councillor for Hoxne, says: "There is no such thing as a free car park. It may be free to the person at that moment, but it is being paid for by council tax. Why should some little old lady here in Needham Market have to pay higher council tax so some richer lady in Debenham can park her car for free all day?"

The committee recommended that a full financial report be conducted before their next meeting in February when they will reconsider the proposals.

Other proposals to address the gap in Mid Suffolk Council's budget include up to 30 job losses from the council itself, as well as an increase in car parking charges in Stowmarket by almost 500 per cent.

A decision on the Stowmarket charges is expected later today while the job cuts will be discussed at a meeting of the full council on Thursday evening.

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