Ipswich council defends 'worst-timed' hike in car park prices

The temporary car park at the Ipswich Waterfront gateway site

The temporary car park at the Ipswich Waterfront gateway site - Credit: Jason Noble/LDRS

Price increases for council-owned car parks in Ipswich later this summer have been approved.

A 10p per hour increase on short stay tariffs will take effect from August 1, from £1.30 to £1.40, with another 10p rise after the Christmas peak in January.

In addition, long stay charges will go up from £1 per hour to £1.20, up to £6.20 for an all day ticket.
The “two after two” deal – £2 after 2pm on weekdays will also increase to £2.50, while the promotion at Crown Car Park where the first hour is £1 will also be removed.

The time period for charging will also increase up to 10pm.

The price changes only apply to car parks owned by Ipswich Borough Council, which at its executive meeting on Tuesday said it recognised there was never a good time to make an increase but stressed that the numbers were still below what they were in 2011.

Back then, charges were £1.70 for one hour.

But the opposition said it “gives out the wrong message”.

Sophie Connelly, portfolio holder for customers in the council’s Labour administration, said: “Income generated from off-street car parks has significantly reduced, mostly because of lockdown and the effect of Covid, and the shortfall has to be addressed.

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“There is never a good time to increase car park charges, but we have kept parking charges as low as we possibly can for the last 11 years and the last review was made four years ago.”

The council said car park income had fallen by £1.3million this year, which helped to fund vital services.

Cllr Connelly said the price increase would help bridge that gap and maintain the quality of services.
She added: “Even with those increased tariffs, Ipswich Borough Council off-street parking remains good value for money and competitive in comparison with private car parks in Ipswich.”

The change comes at a time when inflation has risen along with the costs of goods for many households, including food bills, petrol prices, energy costs and council tax.

Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group said he understood the finances behind the decision, but added: “There is never a great time to increase charges but there can also be a worst time to increase charges and this would be one of the worst timed announcements we have made for a while given the cost of living, given the recent report that says Ipswich has suffered a larger drop in footfall than other urban centres.

“It gives the wrong message at the wrong time – we should be trying to encourage people into the town centre and I think it will have the opposite effect.”