Empty car parks after charges introduced

CAR parks in a Suffolk market town are standing empty after parking charges were introduced.Shoppers are resisting the charges at the short and long-stay car parks at The Hill in Wickham Market and finding other places to leave their cars instead, clogging the streets.

CAR parks in a Suffolk market town are standing empty after parking charges were introduced.

Shoppers are resisting the charges at the short and long-stay car parks at The Hill in Wickham Market and finding other places to leave their cars instead, clogging the streets.

Now side streets and the area around the church are choc-a-bloc with vehicles, and the remaining free car park in Chapel Lane - which also serves the medical centre and community facilities - is overflowing.

Nearly 2,000 people in Wickham Market signed a petition against the charges, but Suffolk Coastal decided they should be imposed because they would solve traffic congestion in the town centre and improve its vitality.


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One motorist said: “The car park I used was virtually empty.

“When we went to get our ticket, the machine had several tickets already stuck on it with plenty of time left on them so we used one and when we returned we stuck it back for someone else to use up the rest of the time.

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“It's ridiculous to charge 50p for two hours - who needs to spend two hours shopping in a town of that size.”

Before the charges were brought in the parish council expressed great concern and said businesses rely heavily on free parking to attract business.

Councillors warned that it would cause displacement to other car parks and surrounding streets.

Suffolk Coastal brought in the charges on April 1 - 50p for two hours on the long-stay Crafers and £1 for two to four hours, while at The Hill area there are three designated bays for 15 minutes free parking, and it is 20p for 30 minutes and 40p an hour. The car parks are expected to bring in £4,900 a year.

The 18-space short-stay would have a high rate of turnover for shoppers, and the 46 space long-stay car park would be used by people employed in the area, tourists and longer stay shoppers.

A council report said: “There is frequent congestion at peak times around The Hill, and the car parks are very heavily used.

“It is believed the introduction of charges will help to manage the traffic movement around the area, and assist in improving the vitality of the town as a local shopping centre.

“It will ensure the short-stay car park is not abused by cars parked for longer periods and encourage local people to use alternative forms of transport (bicycles, walking etc.)”

Are the parking charges too high? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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