Free parking set to be scrapped

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to abolish free parking in a market town are expected to be introduced in 18 months.Suffolk Coastal District Council wants to impose parking charges in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, and a final decision will be taken by cabinet on November 7.

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to abolish free parking in a market town are expected to be introduced in 18 months.

Suffolk Coastal District Council wants to impose parking charges in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, and a final decision will be taken by cabinet on November 7.

Wickham Market is one of only two market towns in the district where no charge is made for car parking.

Nearly 2,000 people have signed petitions opposing the move - but the district council is determined to press ahead with the change.


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Andy Smith, chairman of the Car Park Task Group, said yesterday: ''We appreciate that the proposed introduction of car park charges at Wickham Market has caused concern with local residents and businesses, but the charges under consideration are being kept as low as possible.

''Suffolk Coastal is keen to ensure the continuing success of Wickham Market as a shopping and service centre and experience elsewhere in the district shows that modest car parking charges do not result in reduced town centre usage.

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''We have found that improved traffic management achieved through charging for car parking and its enforcement have prevented cars remaining parked for long periods so that shoppers can normally expect to find a space.''

Cllr Smith added: ''Wickham Market has a limited amount of parking space so it is important that a continued turnover is maintained. The charges suggested have been kept low and it is felt that they will not represent any serious disincentive for people to continue to visit the town.

''However, they will fund the maintenance and management of the car parks, removing the subsidy on this by other towns in the district.''

It is expected charges will be introduced in 2008 although there will be full public consultation in the run-up to the change.

The charges recommended for the Hill short stay car park are: 20p for up to 30 minutes, 40p for an hour and 70p for two hours.

The recommendation for the Percy Mason (Crafers) car park was that this should be a long stay 46-space car park, used by people employed in the area, tourists and longer stay shoppers.

The proposed charges are 40p for up to one hour, 70p for two hours, £1 for two to four hours and £1.50 for over four hours.

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