Ipswich town centre car park charges to rise despite warning from business group

Charges could be going up in the Crown Car Park in Ipswich.

Charges could be going up in the Crown Car Park in Ipswich.

Parking charges are set to rise by 20% in council-owned car parks in Ipswich town centre – including Crown car park - while the Quids In deal is being scrapped in favour of a £2 after 2pm offer.

The organisation representing businesses in the town centre has warned the borough not to increase the charges too steeply ahead of tomorrow’s executive meeting.

The rises are the first in five years and will put the price of using the town centre car parks up from £1 to £1.20 an hour. The “Quids In” deal that offered unlimited parking for £1 after 3pm is being changed to £2 after 2pm.

There are also increases planned for season tickets in long-stay car parks.

The news about the increases prompted Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement to warn that increases must not risk the future success of the town’s retail heart.

He said: “I understand the requirement for a local authority to raise revenue from services like car parking.

“However we have committed a huge amount of effort over the last few years to improve the retail offer in Ipswich and I would be concerned if anything were to threaten the attractiveness of the town centre to visitors.”

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A report for the executive said the increased charges would bring in about an extra £150,000 a year to the borough’s coffers.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said the increased charges would still make the borough’s car parks cheaper than all the others in the town centre.

“Our car parks still offer very good value – and they will still be 30% cheaper than they were in 2011 when we came into power.

“We reduced them (from £1.70 an hour) to £1 an hour in 2012 and there has been no increase since so we don’t think this is unreasonable. And the £2 after 2pm will enable people to spend the whole afternoon shopping in the town for a reasonable price.”

The Elm Street car park which opened last autumn already has the new charges – and the borough is planning to expand its car parks during the year.

The borough says its car parks are cheaper than those in Norwich, Cambridge and Colchester city/town centres and are cheaper than most in Bury St Edmunds.

Work to build a new multi-storey park at Crown Street will start in May and there are plans to re-organise the long-stay car parks in Portman Road.

The borough is also looking to build another multi-storey car park in the Princes Street or West End Road area to cater for the increasing number of office buildings opening in that part of the town.