Campaign to fight rising parking charges

THE EADT today launches an important campaign to fight against the threat of massive increases in car parking charges in north Suffolk towns.Waveney councillors are set to give the go-ahead to a three-month consultation on council parking fees when it meets tomorrow night .

By Sarah Chambers

THE EADT today launches an important campaign to fight against the threat of massive increases in car parking charges in north Suffolk towns.

Waveney councillors are set to give the go-ahead to a three-month consultation on council parking fees when it meets on Thursday, October 27.

Mooted increases of more than 70% contained in an initial report to a meeting tonightmet with uproar among traders in Halesworth, Southwold, Beccles and Bungay, and the item was withdrawn following the intervention of council leader Mark Bee.


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The proposals outlined parking charges in the towns which would have led to all-day fees in the towns going up from £1.75 to £3.

Business leaders have warned that such increases would have a devastating effect on trade - and now the EADT is spearheading a campaign, entitled Fair Price To Park, which will fight against the huge price rises.

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Terry Hunt, EADT editor, said: “Huge increases in car parking charges, such as those which were being proposed, would have a hugely damaging effect on the economy of market towns in north Suffolk. We call on all our readers to support the campaign to keep car parking charges at a reasonable price.”

Waveney leader Mr Bee said council officials would be coming up with new figures to present to the meeting later this month, and stressed that they would be consulting with businesses before introducing any changes.

“We need to work with them to find out what will fit best with business expectation. The officers are looking at the figures,” he said.

But he pointed out that the council had invested several thousand pounds in improving car parking.

“I'm basically not happy with what went into that initial report. I think it does need looking at, but you have to start somewhere,” he said.

Business leaders have warned that large increases would hit them hard in smaller towns.

Philip Reeve, chairman of Halesworth Business Connections, said everyone was concerned when the proposed initial charging figures were revealed and said a large hike would have a “detrimental” impact on the town.

“We are trying to attract people into the town. We want to encourage people to come here rather than put them off,” he said.

“We also support the idea of having a commuter area for car parking for people who work in town. That would prevent a lot of people parking in the outlying streets - that puts the residents backs up as well.”

Ezra Leverett, a town councillor and chairman of the Halesworth and Blyth Valley Partnership, said price hikes would affect employees at his Halesworth print finishing business.

“Anything that discourages people from using Halesworth as a centre has to be bad news for business. It must be borne in mind that the small local market towns are under tremendous pressure from larger towns,” he said.

“These kind of swingeing car parking charges are illogical if you are wanting small market towns to thrive.”

Many shops and businesses in Halesworth are currently displaying posters calling for free car parking to be introduced in the small market towns of north Suffolk.

Francis Guildea, chairman of the Southwold and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said parking was a contentious issue within the town, and there were problems finding spaces, particularly at the height of the season.

Currently, parking in the High Street area of town is free but motorists pay to use a car park next to the pier during the summer season. Mr Guildea said he would welcome new parking in the town.

Jonathan Carman, who runs an investment company in Halesworth, said a large increase would be “another nail in the coffin” for local shopkeepers.

Alex Carr, of the Market Place Wine Shop, Halesworth, added that parking in market towns ought to be free in order to attract people.

Postboxes for petition forms can be found at Chapman's News, 79 High Street, Southwold; Pundy's, 27 High Street, Southwold; Reydon Post Office, 18 Lowestoft Road, Reydon; DC Patrick, 29 Market Place, Halesworth; Goodies, 6 London Road, Halesworth; Forbouys, 16 The Thoroughfare, Halesworth; and Rainbow Food Stores, Saxon Way, Halesworth.

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