Babergh: Lack of information delays talks on Sudbury, Lavenham and Hadleigh car park take over

A DECISION on whether Hadleigh should support a bid by Sudbury Town Council to assume control of car parks in the Babergh area has been delayed, because of a lack of detailed information.

Last October, the council announced its ambitious plans to prevent the introduction of short-term parking fees in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham after Babergh threatened to tackle part of a �1.3 million cut to its public services budget by introducing the charges.

Last night, Hadleigh Town Council was due to discuss a document produced by a specially established car parking group, outlining how the scheme could work. However, councillors had been unable to access copies of the document beforehand, and town clerk Carol Bailey said there was “very little” in it that they could discuss.

Sudbury councillors have already criticised the document – which was reviewed by Babergh’s political leaders’ group this week – because it lacked financial detail and failed to set out exactly how the scheme could be put into practice.

Now fears have been expressed that the plan is too ambitious and could fail because there are so many factors involved, such as car park maintenance, policing ticketing and fines.

Hadleigh mayor, Mary Munson said: “It looks to me as if it is very dependent on charitable aspects and needs going through with a fine tooth comb before we even contemplate becoming part of it.”

She added: “I have spoken to the Sudbury Mayor and when they have something concrete to discuss, they will be happy to come and talk to us about it. Until then, I think we should postpone our discussion.”

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The parking group, made up of town councillors and members of Sudbury’s chamber of commerce, has also attracted criticism for taking too long to devise a detailed plan. But group representative, Chris Storey, believes they can still come up with a sound financial case, if they are given time. He said: “It’s all very well to criticise the speed of things that are being done on a voluntary basis. I am confident that we can achieve our aims but the plan is at a very early stage where it’s being developed by a working group of volunteers, who have to fit it around their work.”

Group member, Jack Owen, said they needed more “factual” information from Babergh before they could form a proper case, adding: “We understand that we have to look at the financial issues surrounding car parking but it would be silly to rush it as we might make some fundamental errors.

“We realise Babergh needs to finalise their budget by November and everyone in the group is giving their time free of charge to this because we are totally committed to achieving the goal that’s been set – to keep short-term parking free.”

A Babergh spokeswoman said no official deadline had been set for Sudbury Town Council to submit its business plan.

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