Fall in use of town's car parks

By John HowardA SENIOR councillor has defended a decision to increase car parking charges in a market town, despite new figures revealing that 44,154 less tickets were sold.

By John Howard

A SENIOR councillor has defended a decision to increase car parking charges in a market town, despite new figures revealing that 44,154 less tickets were sold.

Mid Suffolk District Council raised car parking charges in Stowmarket as it struggled to reduce a £1.57million shortfall in its budget, with tough measures including raising parking charges in the town.

It decided to go ahead with increases that would have seen parking charges of between 20p and £3.50 rising to between 50p and £8 depending on the length of stay. Season tickets would also have gone up from £58.50 a quarter to £343 and from £208 a year to £1,220.


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The level of the rises was later scaled back, but still provoked an outcry from across the community and accusations they were scandalous.

Now Stowmarket and District Chamber of Commerce has released figures for tickets sold at the town's car parks for the period April 2003 to February 2004 compared with April 2004 to February 2005.

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They showed a drop in the number of tickets issued from 103,024 to 81,508 in the Ipswich Street car park, from 129,830 to 109,573 in Milton Road, from 39,702 to 22,875 in Iliffe Way and from 80,030 to 70,304 in Bury Street.

Although the number of tickets issued in the Meadow Centre rose from 402,937 to 427,109, sales across Stowmarket's car parks fell by 44,154 from 755,523 to 711,369.

Roger Saunders, the Conservative council leader, said he was unable to confirm the figures, but added that without the rise in car parking charges people would have had to pay an extra 5% on their council tax bills.

He said that even with less tickets sold, the council had still gained £200,000 in car parking revenue by the end of February and that had helped keep council tax bills down.

Mr Saunders added the council would also later this month discuss reducing some parking charges in the town.

"We are doing nothing to stop Stowmarket shops from trading. They should take advantage of the opportunities available," he said.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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