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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 parking in places such as Sudbury could cost more Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Fears have been raised that parking in places such as Sudbury could cost more Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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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.

Mary Evans said it was a step towards improvement in parking across Suffolk Picture: GREGG BROWNMary Evans said it was a step towards improvement in parking across Suffolk Picture: GREGG BROWN

Plans had been underway for parking across Suffolk to be enforced by district and borough councils instead of police from April 2019.

But delays from the Department for Transport meant that this timescale was now no longer possible, and Suffolk Constabulary is facing at least another 12 months of enforcing parking.

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.

Labour transport spokesman Jack Owen warned it could mean the end of free parking Picture: SUFFOLK LABOUR GROUPLabour transport spokesman Jack Owen warned it could mean the end of free parking Picture: SUFFOLK LABOUR GROUP

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.”

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