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Churches against Sunday parking charges

PUBLISHED: 18:34 10 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:10 03 March 2010

"DON'T let us pay!"

That's the message today from a group of Ipswich churches trying to prevent their congregations having to pay parking charges when they come to worship on Sundays.

"DON'T let us pay!"

That's the message today from a group of Ipswich churches trying to prevent their congregations having to pay parking charges when they come to worship on Sundays.

Ipswich council is planning to extend on-street parking charges in the town centre to Sundays because seven-day shopping has taken off.

However churches in the town centre rely on their congregation coming in from other parts of the town – and elsewhere in East Suffolk – and fear that steep charges will put off worshippers.

"We are very concerned about the proposed charges – it will hit our congregations very hard," said Father Haley Dossor, Vicar of St Mary at the Elms.

"If parking charges are introduced on the streets on Sundays, people won't have enough time for the Sunday service and the cost will be more than many are able to pay.

"It will also affect people who live in the town centre and are visited by relatives on a Sunday – people like those who live in the Alms Houses in Black Horse Lane near the church here," he said.

Church leaders from across the town centre are due to meet council officials today in an attempt to change their mind.

Mr Dossor said allowing free parking until noon on Sundays would help the churches – but that would still affect local residents.

"I know that it is important to have a vibrant, busy town – but there needs to be a balance.

"The town needs thriving churches in its town centre to give it a spiritual and charitable dimension and the council shouldn't be trying to kill them off," Mr Dossor added.

Penny Breakwell, the council's transport spokeswoman, said plans to introduce the charges were so its car parks were in line with the town's commercially-owned NCP car parks.

"I will be discussing with the clergy ways of reaching a possible compromise and listening to their arguments and views, I am aware of their objections, " she said.

"I will be reporting back to the committee the comments from that meeting on January 22."

The changes will apply to all the council-owned off-street car parks in Ipswich, which include the Waterfront, Civic Centre, Crown, West End Road, Princes Street and Portman Road.

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