Fears for parking fees under merged council

FEARS that a district council merger could result in short-term parking charges being introduced in west Suffolk have been voiced by concerned residents.

A vote on the proposed merger of Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk Council is due to take place in May.

At Sudbury Town Council’s annual meeting on Tuesday night residents questioned if a new single authority would mean extra parking costs for those living in Sudbury and Hadleigh.

There are no short-term parking charges for people in either town at the moment, but people in Mid Suffolk currently pay �1 to �2 for the privilege of parking over one to two hours in some council-run car parks.

Jack Owen, a Sudbury resident and former county councillor, said: “At the moment we are only being told the positive reasons for the merger but no-one is discussing the negative impacts.

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“We do not want to be sold down the river by Babergh. We have always been told there will be no short-term charges but how will that work if we merge?”

Nigel Bennett, a Babergh District councillor, replied: “There are pros and cons to the merger but in the end it is down to the public vote if it goes ahead.

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“If Babergh does merge with Mid Suffolk, where there are short-term parking charges, then you would have to presume that a uniform policy could be brought into place.”

Mr Bennett, who voted in favour of the introduction of long-term parking charges in Babergh, introduced last October, admitted that any new short-term charges would be detrimental to Hadleigh and Sudbury.

According to Babergh, if residents vote in favour, the new single council could be in existence by April 2013, which it claims will bring savings of at least �1.8million per year by 2014.

Residents across both districts will be asked whether they back the creation of a single council in a poll which will be held over a four-week period from May 9.

A Babergh spokesperson said: “Babergh has no plans to charge for short-term car parking.

“A key advantage behind merging our council with Mid Suffolk is that the greater potential savings that could be realised than if we remain separate will reduce some of the pressures on us to make cuts elsewhere and raise income from new sources”.

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