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Parking charge anger

PUBLISHED: 00:04 27 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

A FAMILY-RUN Stowmarket business which is closing down has blamed rising parking charges for 'driving the final nail in their coffin'.

Seasons, which sells botanical gifts in Stowmarket town centre, is to close down by the end of the summer after four years of trading.

A FAMILY-RUN Stowmarket business which is closing down has blamed rising parking charges for 'driving the final nail in their coffin'.

Seasons, which sells botanical gifts in Stowmarket town centre, is to close down by the end of the summer after four years of trading.

Mandy Fear, who helps run the business with her family, said they feel let down by Mid Suffolk District Council, which voted through large rises in car parking charges in an effort to keep council tax rises down.

She said: "We are heartbroken to have to close. As far as we are concerned the parking charges are the final nail in our coffin. People are not prepared to pay to browse in the town, they just come in quickly to do their supermarket shopping and banking and get back."

But Roger Saunders, leader of the Conservative/Independent run administration at the district council which has been struggling with a £1.57m budget shortfall, said that without car parking charge rises people would have had to pay an extra 8.5 per cent in council tax.

He said: "I very much regret this. Car parking charge rises is something we regretted having to do, but circumstances left us with no alternative."

The council has voted through increases from the start of this month at five Stowmarket car parks, taking tickets from 20p to £3.50 and from 50p to £5, depending on the length of stay. Season ticket prices rose from £208 a year to £600. The town centre Asda is challenging the rises at their car park, which the council leases from them.

The move comes as some frustrated motorists are parking anywhere but in council car parks, including at a sheltered housing complex. In a bid to combat this the district council has announced that from today wheel clampers will be used in Stowmarket.

Residents at Western Court, a sheltered housing complex, and elderly tenants of the bungalows opposite, have asked Mid Suffolk District Council for immediate action.

Nicholas Gowrley, head of housing at the council, said: "Our concern is that vulnerable people are being considerably distressed because their carers, members of family and health services that they rely on, on a daily basis, are unable to reach them because of great difficulties in car parking.

"There is ample notice that this is private land and that public parking is not welcome. Unfortunately, we have had to take these measures because a minority of people choose to inconvenience our residents."

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