Drivers remain free to come and go

WORRIES over loss of seaside visitors and shoppers is to allow Felixstowe to keep its free car parks, but charges will still rise at pay-and-display sites.

WORRIES over loss of seaside visitors and shoppers is to allow Felixstowe to keep its free car parks, but charges will still rise at pay-and-display sites.

Council chiefs at Suffolk Coastal had recommended that charges be introduced at the town's three free car parks to help keep the council tax down.

But now they have analysed the situation, they don't think it is such a good idea.

In a report to the car park task group, director of development and community services Jeremy Schofield said Manor Terrace car park allowed people to visit the nature reserve and so it was felt it should remain free for the time being.

When the south seafront development was complete, it could be reviewed along with the function of all car parks in the southern part of the resort.

Garrison Lane was used by residents and workers who walk to homes or work, and it was felt that charges could force them to park on-street – making it more difficult for visitors and shoppers who would then be deterred.

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Mr Schofield said it was also felt Garrison Lane coach park should remain free.

"There is some evidence that coach companies bring visitors to Felixstowe in preference to other East Anglian seaside resorts because of a promotional incentive package and free coach parking, and introducing charges for the coach park may reverse the trend for increased coach visits to the resort," he said.

The task group – which meets on Monday December 15 – is being recommended to increase current ticket prices at pay-and-display car parks by 25 per cent to 33 per cent.

It is also recommended to bring in all year round charges at seasonal car parks –Brackenbury, Clifflands, Golf Road and Sea Road – where motorists have parked free in autumn and winter, and at all car parks on Sundays.

Councillors will be asked to look at a series of options for increasing charges, which could bring between £136,000 and £200,000 in extra income.

This will be offset though by the cost of new ticket machines, new display boards and monitoring off the car parks.

Season tickets will also go up, and fines for people who overstay or fail to buy a ticket will rise from £30 to £50.

The measures are needed to help make car parks pay their way and cut costs, and raise more funds to help keep the council tax as low as possible.

Income from car parks is around £590,000 a year but once upkeep, staffing and other costs are paid, they end up costing taxpayers around £60,000 a year.

In Woodbridge, The Avenue, car park, currently free, would have charges.

n What do you think – should car parking charges go up to offset council tax? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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