Car park victory for the people

PEOPLE power is today claiming a victory after a decision to charge vehicle owners to park at a Suffolk beauty spot was partially retracted.Threats by hundreds of visitors to boycott the Needham Lake nature reserve led Mid Suffolk district council to reconsider its decision to charge everyone using the site.

PEOPLE power is today claiming a victory after a decision to charge vehicle owners to park at a Suffolk beauty spot was partially retracted.

Threats by hundreds of visitors to boycott the Needham Lake nature reserve led Mid Suffolk district council to reconsider its decision to charge everyone using the site.

It has now decided to give exemptions and cut-prices to loyal users of the site and says all charges may be withdrawn within a year.

People who will be exempt from the fees include members of the Gipping Valley Model Boat Club and the Gipping Valley Angling Club - members of the latter were among those who vowed to boycott the site if they were asked to pay to park.

Disabled badge holders and volunteers working for the council's countryside service will also escape the fees, and residents who live nearby will be able to buy a season ticket for £20 instead of £30.

The council is also having negotiations with a developer as it hopes to open a visitor centre and café, possibly within the next year. If this can generate extra cash, the charges may be dropped altogether.

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Rogers Saunders, leader of the council, said: "This has been a very emotive issue. I've been told I'm brave to go out in public without a disguise it's so unpopular.

"We have listened and consulted with people before making the decisions.

"We must remember we've been urged to use our assets to generate money. Our leisure services are very important but they don't come for free and this will help us keep our services up to the level they are today, without increasing council tax."

At peak times, the council proposes to charge 50p for cars parking for less than two hours and £1 for cars parking for longer than two hours.

District councillor Wendy Marchant says she is pleased the anglers and model boaters have been given a reprieve but is angry others are being asked to pay.

She said: "The anglers and model boaters already pay an annual water sports permit so why should they have to pay?

"There are other ways of raising revenue or making savings rather than introducing car park charges."

Are you happy with the exemptions? Do you think it's fair to charge people to park at Needham Lake? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK:

www.midsuffolk.gov.uk

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