Discussions over parking hikes
FULL consultation has been pledged over a proposed hike in car parking charges before the new ticket prices are brought in.Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal council deputy leader and cabinet member for planning, said the agreement to raise charges at the district's car parks was only the start of the process.
FULL consultation has been pledged over a proposed hike in car parking charges before the new ticket prices are brought in.
Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal council deputy leader and cabinet member for planning, said the agreement to raise charges at the district's car parks was only the start of the process.
Parish and town councils, chambers of trade and residents' groups would be able to give their views.
However, the extra £200,000 the increased charges would generate was vital to the council's budget – and there would need to be good reason for any of the charges to be dropped or changed.
Traders in Felixstowe have already expressed concern that the higher charges could drive trade away and warned councillors they would "have a fight on their hands", and will be seeking an urgent meeting.
In Felixstowe and Woodbridge's short-term car parks, charges will rise by 10p to 50p for one hour. Felixstowe will see a 20p rise to £1.20 for motorists staying between two and four hours.
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Visitors to the seafront will pay an extra 20p if they stay for up to four hours, but it will cost between 80p and £1.20 depending on where they park.
Staying over four hours though will be increased by 25pc at the Spa Pavilion and Pier Bight to £2.50, and by 87.5pc to £1.50 at Brackenbury, Golf Road, Arwela Road, Sea Road and Clifflands.
Mr Smith said announcing the parking rises, the first for many years, was the bitterest thing he had had to do as a cabinet member.
The council's car parking policy had been very successful but with pressure on the budget the time had come for what he described as modest increases.
"They are by no means extortionate. I would not have agreed to them if I did not genuinely believe that the effect on our town centres would be probably not negligible but not significant in terms of the trade and health of those areas," he said.
"We will certainly be listening to the consultations we receive and if we have genuinely got it wrong we will make amendments.
"But I don't want to give the impression that if people say, 'We don't like it' that we won't do it. We don't have that luxury.
"We have to make sure the best we can within the different circumstances of the car parks that if people have points that hold water then we will listen and do what is appropriate."
He was aware of a wide spectrum of views on car park charges and had even come across people who said they were ridiculously cheap. They would certainly remain modest compared to bigger shopping centres in the area and some other small towns across the county.