David Ellesmere: NCP forced to lower car park prices thanks to council

Crown Street car park opened in August 2018 and will be free this summer on Sundays. Picture: OLIVER

Crown Street car park opened in August 2018 and will be free this summer on Sundays. Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN - Credit: Archant

Have you tried the new Crown Street car park? Today David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, reminds readers that you can use it for free on Sundays over the summer months.

Here he explains more about recent changes to car parking in Ipswich town centre.

When we took control of the council in 2011 the previous Conservative and Liberal Democrat administration had allowed the council's car parks to fall into a sorry state.

Spiral Car Park had been privatised and Crown Car Park demolished. The council controlled so few spaces it could no longer influence the market. Private operators did not have to worry about the quality of their offer and could basically charge what they liked.

Not that they had much competition from the council's car parks. In today's prices the council was charging around £2.20 an hour.

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Since 2011 we have followed a policy of increasing the number of spaces, improving the quality and reducing prices.

We have provided new or expanded car parks at the Regent Car Park, Elm Street, Smart Street and of course the new multi-storey Crown Car Park.

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These are quality car parks with proper surfaces, lighting, CCTV and a range of payment options.

Crown Car Park operates a pay-on-exit system so you only pay for the amount of time you are in the car park and don't have to hurry back because your ticket is about to run out. We have installed a significant number of electric vehicle charging points - with charging included in the price of the ticket - to help improve air quality and reduce fossil fuel use.

The majority of our car parking spaces now only cost £1 an hour, a maximum of £2 after 2pm on week days and are free after 8pm.

The biggest success of our strategy so far has been to force NCP reduce the extortionate prices they were charging in their car park behind M&S. This used to be £3.60 an hour - but is now £1 for the first hour.

Because we want to support the town centre further, we have just announced that, over the summer, Crown Car Park will be free for the first three hours on Sundays.

With Elmer's Big Parade, the monthly Farmers' market, great free exhibitions at the Mansion and Art Gallery, beautiful Christchurch Park and the fountain on the Cornhill there will be plenty for families to do in the town centre this summer to suit every pocket.

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