End to free car parking?

FREE parking in Felixstowe is to become a luxury of the past – to help keep the council tax down.Councillors are being recommended to introduce charges at the town's three free car parks, make seasonal ones pay-and-display all year round, and bring in price rises at all the others.

FREE parking in Felixstowe is to become a luxury of the past – to help keep the council tax down.

Councillors are being recommended to introduce charges at the town's three free car parks, make seasonal ones pay-and-display all year round, and bring in price rises at all the others.

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.

Suffolk Coastal is looking at all its services to see where fees can be increased to help with its cash crisis.

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 a report to the new car park task group, director of development and community services Jeremy Schofield said: "It is considered that a moderate increase in charges although unpopular would not be unreasonable.

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"It is important not to deter shoppers and visitors from the district's towns and to maintain charges at a competitive and comparatively low level.

"It would also be possible, given the range of car parks, to introduce more flexibility within the charging regime, for example, seasonal charges in seafront/resort car parks could be higher than out-of-season."

Mr Schofield suggests that Manor Terrace, Garrison Lane and Garrison Lane coach park, currently all free car parks, could become pay-and-display.

Those at Brackenbury, Clifflands, Golf Road and Sea Road, which are currently free in winter, could also see charges imposed all year round.

He also recommends that the council enter into talks with the Co-op about managing the company's supermarket car parks in Felixstowe, Leiston and Framlingham and introduce charges from April 2004.

Parking fees would be split between the store and the council with ticket money refunded to shoppers spending a minimum amount in the store.

There could some good news for motorists though – parking in short-stay car parks in the district's town centre could become free for up to 30 minutes.

The task group will meet on Monday October 20 to discuss the ideas and approve a new policy for the provision of car parks.

Councillors will then meet at a later date to decide how much prices should rise and which car parks will be affected.

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

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