Car park charge victory

A COUNCIL has revealed new proposals for increased car parking charges in north Suffolk - with much smaller rises than originally put forward.Waveney District Council had been considering implementing rises of between 71% and 250% for parking in Lowestoft, Halesworth, Southwold, Beccles and Bungay until a public outcry over the decision, spearheaded by an EADT campaign.

By Danielle Nuttall

A COUNCIL has revealed new proposals for increased car parking charges in north Suffolk - with much smaller rises than originally put forward.

Waveney District Council had been considering implementing rises of between 71% and 250% for parking in Lowestoft, Halesworth, Southwold, Beccles and Bungay until a public outcry over the decision, spearheaded by an EADT campaign.

A special meeting was held at the council yesterday where the authority revealed a new set of proposals - with anticipated lower fees. They are set to be discussed by the executive committee today before being made part of a public consultation exercise.

The original plans would have seen some car parks in central Lowestoft rise from £2.75 for more than four hours to £7 for longer stays than three hours.

Meanwhile, long-term parking in towns like Halesworth and Bungay would have risen from £1.75 to £3 under the proposals.

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However, under the new plans, short-stay town centre car parks will increase from £1.65 for up to three hours to £2.50 between two and three hours, with the maximum stay being three hours.

Long-stay town centre car parks will be charged at £3 for up to three hours and £4 for more than three hours, while in districts (Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth) the cost will be £2 for less than three hours and £3 for more than three hours.

The council hopes to designate car parks as either short stay or long stay, rather the present system where car parks are available to all.

Stephen Ardley, Waveney's portfolio holder for community and facilities, said: “Those working in the town and commuters will be directed to long-stay car parks that are situated on the outskirts of, but within easy walking distance, of the towns.

“The approach will maximise use of the car parks on the outskirts such as Alexandra Road, Belvedere Road, and Blyburgate, which are for much of the time under-used and free-up additional spaces in the central car parks.”

The EADT launched the “Fair Price To Park” campaign aimed at opposing the original price increases for the area's market towns, whose economy relies on attracting visitors and nearby residents.

Business leaders in the market towns also voiced their opposition to the proposed new charges.

Mr Ardley said: “Regrettably, the interest shown and coverage within the local press has resulted in informal consultation ahead of the formal process. Nevertheless, these views have been considered and the report amended.”

He added: “It is necessary to look at the whole picture that balances all the varying needs, maximises available spaces, and overall does not increase the fees and charges above the inflation rate.

“The increased revenue outlined in the previous report was largely down to freeing up spaces where our customers wanted to park, a greater turnover of vehicles, and use of assets in the most effective way.

“Changes have been made to the original report that is being presented to the executive tomorrow following recent feedback. However, further changes may still have to be made as part of the statutory consultation process.”

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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