Anger at parking charge hike
COMMUTERS and visitors to the market towns of north Suffolk face massive car park charge increases of more than 70% from next month.Waveney District Councillors are being recommended to approve the increases that would see all day parking at Halesworth, Beccles and Bungay increase from £1.
COMMUTERS and visitors to the market towns of north Suffolk face massive car park charge increases of more than 70% from next month.
Waveney District Councillors are being recommended to approve the increases that would see all day parking at Halesworth, Beccles and Bungay increase from £1.75 to £3.
Motorists visiting Southwold would also see a steep rise in charges at the car park next to the pier.
Currently the car park is free in the winter months and during the summer costs range from 60p for up to an hour to £3 for more than four hours.
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Under the new proposals motorists will face charges at the car park all year round and have to pay a minimum of £4 for stays up to three hours and £5 for more than three hours.
As part of a county-wide car parking strategy car parks close to the centre of Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth would become short stay with costs increasing to £1.60 for up to three hours and £5 for over three hours. Up to one hour will cost 45p, marginally more than the current rates in the three towns.
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The existing free 30-minute spaces available at The Thoroughfare car park in Halesworth and Blyburgate at Beccles would be abolished.
Car park charges are also being increased at Lowestoft, while monthly car park tickets for the Waveney area would rise from £40 to £60.
The new proposals would enable the Waveney area to support Suffolk County Council's strategy of ensuring there is a high turnover of vehicles in town centre car parks according to a report going before members of the district council's Executive, which meets next week.
The new charges would come into affect from November 1, if approved, and would also bring in extra income as well as enabling the district council to carry out planned improvements at the car parks across Waveney.
In the financial year 2004-05 Waveney District Council total income from car parks was £1.68 million that included £156,000 in fines and excess charges and £104,000 in season ticket charges.
The projected income from car parks, if the new proposals are accepted, for 2006-07 is £2.07 million.
Philip Reeve, chairman of the Halesworth Business Association, said he was disappointed that car parking charges could be increasing by such a large amount.
“Shops and businesses in small market towns rely on being able to attract customers from a wide area and car parking charges are such an important part of that process.
“These changes will also make it more difficult to attract staff to the various shops and businesses in the town and the need for a commuters' car park in the town is needed now more urgently than ever,” he said.
The business association, along with Halesworth Town Council and residents' organisations, have been calling for a car parking strategy for the town for a number of years.
Residential streets close to the town centre have become clogged up with parked cars and many residents find it difficult entering or leaving their property.
Suffolk County Council is considering adopting a residents only parking option on some streets with people paying anything from £20 to £70 a year for a permit to park outside their homes.
In September homes within half-a-mile of Halesworth town centre received a questionnaire about the proposals but so far the response has been disappointing.
Wendy Mawer, who represents Halesworth on the county council, said: “It is imperative that we receive as much feedback as possible about the residents' parking proposals.”
She urged everyone to return the questionnaires and let the county council know their views.
Residents' organisations are handing out extra questionnaires to homes on streets close to the town centre and it is hoped to have more questionnaires available from Halesworth Library.