September 19 2014 Latest news:
West Suffolk reporter
Thursday, July 17, 2014
A west Suffolk town is being urged to take control of its car parks from St Edmundsbury Borough Council in a move that would benefit both parties, according to one councillor.
Haverhill Town Council would take on the management of car parks in the town under an idea mooted by David Nettleton, who represents Bury St Edmunds.
Parking in Haverhill brought in £257,000 to St Edmundsbury last year, against running costs of £157,000 – a figure Mr Nettleton thinks is too high, possibly due to the service being run from Bury.
There has long been tensions between St Edmundsbury and Haverhill Town Council, typified by the recent row over the withdrawal of the council tax support grant.
Mr Nettleton said: “The operational costs are quite high in running these car parks. We spend a lot of money on these car parks, they’re must be a better way of dealing with them.
“I feel Haverhill representatives feel they are being treated as poor relations. Haverhill Town Council is looking for more things to do to help their own town. This is about working with Haverhill Town Council and giving them a bit more say over how they manage their town.
“If Haverhill managed it, they would look at reducing their running costs there by managing it locally.”
Mr Nettleton’s proposals would see Haverhill Town Council lease the car parks from St Edmundsbury.
They would set the tariffs, collect the parking income and issue fines, but would also be responsible for maintenance and any appeals.
Colin Poole, Haverhill Town Council’s new clerk, said: “We’d have to police them, to make sure people are not occupying spaces long after they have finished paying for them. The maintenance of the car parks would be an issue. They look pretty good at the moment, but obviously the car parks do need resurfacing.
“There is a general acceptance that different services, different activities will be devolved down from bigger councils down to town and parishes. That’s happening up and down the country.
“We just have to look at each individual proposal in turn. There’s all sorts of suggestions coming in around the country. It’s about local control and local decision-making. Potentially it could be a good deal for the taxpayer.”
Haverhill borough and county councillor Tony Brown also said it could be a good idea, but added: “Obviously the devil is in the detail, and there would be a lot of negotiation to be done.”