Anger at lake parking fees plan

FURIOUS residents voiced their anger last night at a district council's move to bring in car parking charges at a lake which attracts thousands of visitors a year.

FURIOUS residents voiced their anger last night at a district council's move to bring in car parking charges at a lake which attracts thousands of visitors a year.

Mid Suffolk district councillors faced cries of "disgusting'' from people as residents spoke out against the proposed charges at Needham Lake.

The Conservative/Independent-run authority has been considering introducing the charges at a rate of 50p for up to two hours and £1 for more than two hours. Evenings and night-times would be free.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors called in the idea before the Scrutiny Committee last night.


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After a heated debate, the committee voted to ask the Executive Committee to refer it to another panel for further investigation.

Lib Dem members say the council hopes to raise £10,000 a year from the charges, but that is subject to visitors not staying away and most paying the fees they are supposed to.

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Wendy Marchant, a Liberal Democrat councillor who represents the town, said she feared once the charges were in place they would not stay at 50p.

Pensioner Brian Crascall was among the group of residents who turned out at the meeting to lobby against the rise.

Mr Crascall, who brought a placard to make his point, regularly feeds the wildlife at the lake and resents being asked to pay to park his car by the council.

He said: "I have had people phoning me really irate about this, people are furious and feelings are running pretty high. People like to go and buy their fish and chips and go down to the lake and now they will have to pay to park and eat them there.

"A lot of people who go down there are retired, there's those who like to feed the wildlife, the fishermen too. People are really heated up about this.''

Ian Mason, a town councillor, added: "Needham's lake is a lovely place, free of charge for everyone. The council are spending a vast amount of money, £30,000, to bring in ticket machines, to get just £10,000 a year."

But Conservatives district councillors argue that Needham Market's lake requires constant investment to maintain and does not believe the vast majority of people will be unhappy to make a small contribution.

They argue that in order to keep council tax levels down - one of the reasons the Conservatives were elected to run the authority - people will have to pay a contribution at the lakeside to park.

Gordon Paton, a Conservative councillor, added: "We are not trying to make money for the sake of it, we are trying to retain our fine countryside service.''

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