Babergh: Community leaders are “thrilled” at short-stay car parking charges turnaround

PLANS to introduce short-stay parking fees in Sudbury and Hadleigh have been scrapped following a committee meeting.

Members of Babergh District Council’s strategy committee yesterday decided to take talks about the introduction of short-stay parking charges off the agenda - the move had been put forward as a way of helping the council to balance their books in the future

Yesterday, the strategy committee considered a range of cost-cutting and money-saving options that would help the council make �1.3million of savings next year.

While the plans for short-stay car parking charges were scrapped, members agreed to continue with the integration of the district council’s staff with those of Mid Suffolk, increase council tax by 3.5% and charge an additional 50p per day in their long-stay car parks - taking the cost to �2.

A list of recommendations will now be put to the full council before the budget for 2012/13 is set.

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Jennie Jenkins, chairman of the strategy committee, said: “I believe that these proposals accurately reflect the kind of balance that our residents and other bodies are asking us to strike as we go about the painful and difficult business of sorting out next year’s budget.

“I believe I speak on behalf of all Babergh councillors when I say thank you to our staff who once again have borne the brunt of these cutbacks.”

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The district council currently offers free parking for three hours in its car parks and on hearing that free parking would be maintained, Sudbury Town councillor Lesley Ford-Platt, who is also chairman of the Sudbury Market Town Partnership, said it was “the news Sudbury needs”.

“I think I need more detail on what they are proposing, but it’s absolutely the right decision for the people of Sudbury to not charge for short stay car parking.”

Mrs Ford-Platt said free parking is one of Sudbury’s biggest draws and added: “I think if we had to have charges we would very quickly have a dead town centre.”

The East Anglian Daily Times reported on Tuesday that Sudbury Town Council, Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and other groups are drawing up a proposal to take over the running of the district council-owned car parks.

Sue Brotherwood, clerk of Sudbury Town Council, said that is expected to carry on despite the strategy committee’s decision. She said: “We shall continue to work with the district council and the chamber of commerce to look for a way forward for the future to secure that long term.”

Frank Lawrenson, a recently-elected Babergh councillor, has suggested that businesses work together to run the car parks and said this latest development will gave them time to come up with a proposal.

He said: “It’s a window of opportunity that they have and let’s hope they take the bull by the horns and make it happen. I really wish the businesses in Sudbury and Hadleigh every success with any proposal they can come up with.”

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