Could Suffolk's rural towns lose their free parking?
PUBLISHED: 09:17 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:17 07 November 2018
Fears have been raised that free parking could be lost in Suffolk's towns if responsibility for enforcing parking transfers from police to local councils.
Plans had been underway for parking across Suffolk to be enforced by district and borough councils instead of police from April 2019.
Money collected by police from parking is sent to central government, but councils can keep the cash and pump into areas in their authorities.
But Suffolk County Council’s Labour group has warned that councils having control of parking could mean areas which currently enjoy free parking could face charges in the future.
Councillor Jack Owen, Labour spokesman for roads and highways, said: “I have long fought for free parking in our market towns and villages as a way of ensuring our rural towns have a viable future.
“We know that free parking means towns, such as the one I represent, Sudbury, have a way of pulling people in. Given the continuing cuts to public transport free parking is the only way to guarantee the survival of our rural towns and I issue a warning that this action is likely to lead to parking charges across Suffolk.
“There is a real risk that the revenue expected from fines would only be short term and this could result in an attack on free off-road parking.”
Suffolk County Council’s cabinet agreed to adopt a parking management strategy, which represents a part of the formal process of transferring parking enforcement from police to councils.
It is not yet clear when the process of the changeover will begin with the Department for Transport.
Conservative cabinet member for highways Mary Evans said: “We all recognise that Suffolk Constabulary are hard pressed and hardly ever have the resources to respond to reports of bad parking, but we all recognise we want to see an improvement and this strategy reasserts the commitment to improvement and secure civil parking enforcement in our county.”