Council to do parking fees U-turn?

ExclusiveBy John HowardUNPOPULAR car parking charges could be slashed by £1.50 a day in a town, as a council prepares to make a U-turn on fees.Roger Saunders, leader of the Conservative/Independent-run Mid Suffolk District Council, has revealed that parking charges in Stowmarket could be cut.

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By John Howard

UNPOPULAR car parking charges could be slashed by £1.50 a day in a town, as a council prepares to make a U-turn on fees.

Roger Saunders, leader of the Conservative/Independent-run Mid Suffolk District Council, has revealed that parking charges in Stowmarket could be cut.


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It currently costs £4 to park for more than four hours at the Ipswich Street and Milton Road car parks in the town, but that could fall to £2.50, while the £600 season ticket could be cut to £500.

The proposal comes after a pilot price reduction for long-term parking from £4 to £2.50 for more than four hours in the Bury Street car park, introduced initially during the festive and sales season.

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It appears to have been a real success for the council, although the figures still need to be evaluated and any cuts at other car parks would have to be approved by the authority's executive.

Other changes under consideration include making the Iliffe Way car park for short-stay parking only, scrapping the £8 charge.

The council brought in the unpopular price hikes as it struggled to cope with a £1.57million budget shortfall, arguing higher charges helped keep council tax rises down.

But businesses complained and at least one family-run Stowmarket firm said they were the final nail in its coffin.

Mr Saunders said: “We know that we have already raised more than £200,000 this year, which is the equivalent to 5% in council tax.

“If we had not raised that money, the public would have had to pay more in council tax, or we would have had to make more serious cuts, and I do not think we are in a position to do that without affecting the services we provide.

“The public have not boycotted our car parks, but we were forced in to it to make sure people did not pay more on their council tax within mid Suffolk.

“If we take more money by lowering prices, it would be silly to have the price at a level no-one wants. We are just using common sense. We are prepared to learn, it's about dropping process to a level the market will bear.”

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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