Late bid to halt parking fees
CIVIC leaders in two market towns have made a last-ditch rallying call to halt controversial proposals to introduce car-parking fees.Babergh District Council will tomorrow make a final decision on introducing long-stay charges in both Sudbury and Hadleigh.
CIVIC leaders in two market towns have made a last-ditch rallying call to halt controversial proposals to introduce car-parking fees.
Babergh District Council will tomorrow make a final decision on introducing long-stay charges in both Sudbury and Hadleigh.
Despite public opposition, council officials are recommending the charges be introduced to help reduce the £290,000 it currently spends annually on providing parking facilities across the district.
Traders and civic leaders in both towns have reacted angrily to the plans and say the fees could drive shoppers away and leave them unable to compete with bigger centres, such as Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester.
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Many fear the charges would cause "disastrous" damage to the towns' economies. That fear increased recently when the authority's corporate director Mike Hammond said it had been unable to identify ways to assess the impact the fees would have on the vitality and viability of the two communities.
Now those fighting the plans are urging the district council to throw out the plans once and for all at tomorrow's crunch meeting.
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Hadleigh town and district councillor David Grutchfield said: "Any councillor doing his job properly should listen the views of the public and represent the feeling of his constituents – on that basis alone these charges should be thrown out for good.
"The charges would seriously damage the business communities in both towns, if people have to pay to park they will choose to go to the bigger places and that would be disastrous.
"We will call for a recorded vote so the electorate can see exactly which councillors vote in favour of these plans."
Fellow district councillor Nigel Bennett, who represents Sudbury's south ward, said: "What people must realise is how important free parking is to the town centres.
"As small centres we rely on people coming in to shop on a regular basis – it is the free parking that persuades many people to shop here rather than going to the bigger towns. Babergh should be nurturing both Sudbury and Hadleigh as they are the main economic centres of the district."
Last month Babergh's Strategy Committee recommended a £1, long stay charge in both Sudbury and Hadleigh.
The charge would still leave the authority needing to find only £125,000 a year for car-parking services.