Public want better parking enforcement rather than free spaces, says council

A quiet Woodbridge Thoroughfare earlier this year Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

A quiet Woodbridge Thoroughfare earlier this year Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Council chiefs have argued that better parking enforcement is needed to bring shoppers back to high streets rather than free parking spaces.

It comes after Woodbridge business owner Jill Barrett called on East Suffolk Council to introduce free parking temporarily to help businesses get going following the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE: Independent shop owner calls for free parking to help get businesses moving following pandemic

“What I am asking the council for is help to even out this imbalance by offering free parking for shoppers for a certain amount of time,” said Mrs Barratt.

“This would be especially helpful for small and medium independents to get back on their feet after the Covid crisis.”

Some free parking measures do exist elsewhere in the county but East Suffolk Council argued that it had research to prove that what the public wanted was better parking enforcement.

Norman Brooks, East Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for transport said: “Research carried out by our Economic Development team in 2019 does not support the claim that free parking alone will help our town centres.

“In fact, it suggests that one of the biggest priorities amongst our residents and businesses is to ensure that parking and enforcement is well-managed to address bad and inconsiderate parking.

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“For example, most town centres in East Suffolk include free parking bays, however as they have historically not been enforced, some people have parked in them all day.

“East Suffolk Council is investing a considerable sum each year in a new enforcement operation, that will free up those free parking bays for shoppers and visitors to use.

“In addition, our proposed new tariffs would see a free parking session available for many of the car parks in the district.

“We know that these decisions can be unpopular but it is our responsibility to ensure that there is car parking for everyone and a good turnaround to support our local businesses, as well as providing safe and well-managed car parks which is all supported by car parking charges.”