Stowmarket: Town council upset over Mid Suffolk District Council’s parking review
09:00 29 November 2012
A REVIEW of car parking in Mid Suffolk is unlikely to lead to cheaper fees in Stowmarket, it is feared.
Mid Suffolk District Council debated the parking review on Tuesday, but Stowmarket town clerk David Blackburn said it was “highly restrictive” because MSDC needs to maintain the same income.
However, he has welcomed the fact there was no plan to increase fees.
The town council has also voiced concerns that Stowmarket is the only town in the district where people have to pay to park.
Mr Blackburn said: “At the outset, we have to say that we are naturally disappointed the review is being undertaken on the basis the outcome must be ‘cost neutral’ as this seriously restricts the options that might be considered.
“It is likely to mean that the fundamental problems of car parking in the town are not addressed and the parking issue remains unresolved.”
He added: “We do recognise the difficult financial circumstances faced by the district council and readily acknowledge the reliance on income of £700,000 per annum principally from Stowmarket’s car parks to support the district council’s revenue budget.
“We also welcome the fact that the parking review is being conducted on the basis that there is no intention to increase parking charges.”
He said businesses needed affordable car parking to increase trade and footfall in the town.
Mid Suffolk said when it sent out 120 letters to businesses in and around the town to establish their opinions on the council’s parking policy they only received one reply.
A spokeswoman for the council said as Stowmarket is the largest market town in the district it was not surprising that it is the only town that has pay and display parking.
On why the parking review has to be cost neutral, the spokeswoman said: “Mid Suffolk does not want to increase charges. Like many other authorities, we are willing to consider alternative arrangements if they are cost neutral, within reason. This seems like a sensible option in difficult and challenging financial circumstances.”
She said the £700,000 income from the car parks was to be expected from a town of Stowmarket’s size.
Mid Suffolk has looked at allowing motorists 30 minutes of free parking, with parking free of charge after 3pm on selected days.
But the council has said the proposals would significantly affect their income and would have a “questionable” impact on increasing people coming into the town.
Mid Suffolk is looking to extend the first charging period from 90 minutes to two hours.