Lavenham: Tourist hotspot bids to make visitors contribute to parking costs

Visitors descend on Lavenham during the summer months

Visitors descend on Lavenham during the summer months

A BID by villagers to assume management of car parks in one of Suffolk’s top tourist hotspots could come to fruition within the next month.

Members of Lavenham Parish Council were expected to pitch in with town councillors and chamber of commerce representatives from Sudbury and Hadleigh, who are currently developing a business plan which they hope will enable them to take control of the car parks in both towns from Babergh District Council. The move is intended to stave off the threat of short-term parking charges.

But in a newsletter just published, Lavenham Parish Council has stated its intention to assume responsibility for its own two car parks - one in Prentice Street and another behind The Cock public house - rather than becoming part of the Sudbury/Hadleigh scheme.

The newsletter states that the decision has been made for a number of reasons, including to prevent the car parks from being “swept up into a new pay and display scheme likely to be introduced in Sudbury and the surrounding area.” It continues: “Our aim is to explore ways in which visitors to the village can be encouraged to make a contribution for the use of these facilities, which will ease the burden on the residents and hopefully contribute any surplus to a local charity.”

Last night, parish council chairman Roy Whitworth told the EADT the villagers had a long list of ideas they were currently persuing with Babergh. He said: “We are hoping to receive a lease from Babergh within the next week or so. We are confident that we can do something but we are not in a position to give details until it is all officially signed.”

The parish council took over the management of the Prentice Street public toilets several months ago and has now reported that it is running the facility at less than half the cost previously incurred by Babergh. Parish clerk Jane Bellward said they intended to repeat the success with the main public conveniences in The Cock car park, and with the car parks themselves. She added: “A lot of visitors to the village do not expect parking to be free and they get a pleasant surprise. We are are hoping that people will be so pleased that there is still free parking, and toilets that are open in Lavenham that they will make a voluntary donation.”

Sudbury and Hadleigh parking group chairman Tony Platt said Lavenham had been invited to meetings, including one this Thursday, to discuss parking proposals, but had declined.

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He added: “We had thought that Lavenham might become part of a composite arrangement between the three areas but if they have decided to persue their own arrangements, then that’s fine. I think it still sends the same message out to Babergh District Council that there would be a strong adverse reaction to the introduction of short-stay parking charges.”

A Babergh spokesman declined to comment on the matter until after Thursday’s meeting, which has been scheduled to to help decide on a way forward for the Sudbury and Hadleigh plans.