Future of free parking to be decided today

THE future of free car parking in three Suffolk towns will be considered by councillors today in a bid to plug a funding black hole.

Russell Claydon

THE future of free car parking in three Suffolk towns will be considered by councillors today in a bid to plug a funding black hole.

Charging motorists for long stay spaces in Sudbury, Lavenham and Hadleigh could go forward as part of a package of efficiency savings at Babergh District Council.

The authority, the last in the county not to levy for parking in its towns, needs to find savings totalling �1.4 million for next year's budget and at least �3.3million over the next three years.

But the abolition of free parking across the towns is being fiercely opposed by business and community leaders who believe it will deter people from shopping locally.

Lyn Gurling, chairman of Lavenham Parish Council, said: “We will fight it tooth and nail.

Most Read

“We should be treated as a village and I do not know what other villages have car parking charges. That is my view and that of most of the people in the village.”

She added: “We do not want to put people off here. We are really keen people shop locally and tremendously keen on our tourists.”

Nick Hallidie, chairman of the Sudbury Society, said: “I would much rather see them make their savings within their own organisation.”

Laurie Munson, mayor of Hadleigh Town Council, said: “The town council are unanimously against a fee paying car park. Some people work in Hadleigh on minimum pay rate and this would not help the commerce of Hadleigh.”

Nick Ridley, strategy committee chairman at Babergh, described the task of filling 12.5% of its current budget in a year as “enormous”.

He said: “As a responsible council we cannot rule out any legitimate idea that may help fill that gap and so preserve our frontline services.

“That is why - subject to the approval of Babergh's full council - we aim to give our service and financial planning task group the mandate to actively consider a range of difficult options - including changes to staff terms and conditions, possible staff redundancies and a very modest direct charging regime for long-stay car parking.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter