Business-run car parks idea voiced

BUSINESSES and others with a vested interest in a west Suffolk market town are drawing up a bid to take over the running of council-owned car parks.

The move comes after cash-strapped Babergh District Council, which currently offers free parking for three hours at its car parks, revealed it was considering introducing charges as part of efforts to save �3.5million during the next three years.

In response, Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, Sudbury Town Council and numerous other groups, have been drawing up a proposal to establish a charitable body which would take over the running of the car parks.

The bid - which is still being worked on - is similar to an idea put forward by entrepreneur and recently elected Babergh councillor Frank Lawrenson, who suggested businesses got together to run the car parks in Sudbury.

Mr Lawrenson said if people looked at the town centre as primarily a shopping centre then the current parking arrangements were akin to the council subsiding free parking for local businesses.

He said if businesses took on the running of car parks they would have complete control similar to out-of-town centres.

Chris Storey, chairman of the town’s chamber of commerce, said the aim of the charitable trust move would be to preserve free three-hour parking across the district and ensure the car parks are run according to the long term economic well-being of the district rather than be tied to the budgets of a council.

Most Read

Mr Storey said: “We are working on a proposal whhich will put us in a position where we can go to businesses and others with a real plan that will work. We want it to be all inclusive so that everybody can support it.”

An outline of the proposal will be shown to members of Sudbury Town Council on Tuesday night and members of Babergh on January 26. It will tell members how the charitable trust hopes to lease the car parks across the whole district from Babergh and take on employment responsibilities for the warden staff. The proposal says significant savings could be made simply by the car parks being run by a charity. The proposal is to retain long stay charges but keep short term parking free.

A spokesman for Babergh said: “We have to save �3.5million over three years and we are looking at sustainable ways of dealing with those gaps.”

He said the council was looking at all options for saving money and generating income in 2012/2013, one option for which is introducing short term parking fees.