Hadleigh/Sudbury: Car park plans are ‘progressing’ but still concerns over charges

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TOWN officials believe they are a step closer to safeguarding free short-term parking in Sudbury and Haldeigh.

But there are concerns that if long-term parking fees continue to rise, it could have a detrimental effect on Sudbury’s branch railway line.

Moves to introduce short-stay charges in both towns were considered by Babergh District Council a year ago. This resulted in a group of town councillors and chamber of commerce representatives from Sudbury and Hadleigh developing a business plan, which they hope will allow them to take control of the car park management from the district authority, and stave off short-stay parking fees.

At a Sudbury Town Council meeting on Tuesday, group chairman Tony Platt said although some doubt had been expressed as to whether they could come up with a workable concept, he was confident progress was being made.

He added: “We obtained a quote from a car park management company that could be contracted to undertake the day-to-day running of the car parks in Sudbury, Hadleigh and possibly Lavenham. Their costings are a considerable improvement on Babergh’s own costing arrangements and their officer who is working on this proposal has said he is impressed with what we have come up with. There is a growing feeling that no one wants to introduce short-term parking charges and there would be an outcry if we did.”

In January, Babergh councillors agreed to increase council tax by 3.5% and charge more for the long-stay car parks. But Sudbury councillor Simon Clarke said he was concerned about the “steady upward trend” of long-stay car parking fees, which was already starting to deter commuters. He added: “This could ultimately lose us the branch line of the railway if it’s not used enough so this is a serious consideration.”

His colleague Jack Owen agreed, adding: “It would be foolish to increase long term parking fees because people will seek out stations near to car parks that are free of charge.”

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A Babergh spokesman said all parties involved were due to meet on April 18 to discuss the work that had been done and to decide on a way forward.