New parking fees edge step closer

CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce car parking fees in two market towns have moved a step closer after being backed by councillors.Despite public opposition to the plans, Babergh District Council's overview and scrutiny committee yesterday voted to back the proposals to introduce charges for long term parking in both Sudbury and Hadleigh.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce car parking fees in two market towns have moved a step closer after being backed by councillors.

Despite public opposition to the plans, Babergh District Council's overview and scrutiny committee yesterday voted to back the proposals to introduce charges for long term parking in both Sudbury and Hadleigh.

Members said the annual £112,000 that would be generated by introducing of the fees would help keep down increases in council tax bills and therefore needed to be given full consideration.

The meeting heard how it would cost authority an initial £32,000 for equipment needed to implement the plans and then £24,700 per year in running costs, leaving an annual profit of £87,300.


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Members of the overview and scrutiny committee voted six to three in favour of giving further consideration to the long term parking charges, but voted against proposals to retain an option for short-term parking charges to be included in the authority's 2005/06 budget.

Yesterday committee member and Sudbury mayor John Sayers criticised the decision.

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"It all boils down to the fact we are being dictated to from above. I am not very happy that the vitality and viability of Sudbury's town centre is being sacrificed to bung up some holes in this establishment," he said.

David Grutchfield, town, district and county councillor for Hadleigh said the battle to force out the charges would go on.

"I am disappointed by the decision, these charges would be disastrous for local people and businesses.

"We will keep fighting all the way and I am sure if people stick to their guns we can stop these charges going through."

Despite concerns over yesterday's decisions in both Sudbury and Hadleigh, there were some guarded celebrations in Lavenham.

The committee backed a working recommendation to scrap a proposal to introduce parking fees in the historic village.

Councillors decided Lavenham should not be considered in the same context as Sudbury and Hadleigh as its financial security is determined by the volatile tourist industry.

Lavenham parish council chairman Lyn Gurling said: "It is essential not to charge visitors as they play an important part in our economy and we don't want to put them off coming."

The matter will now go before Babergh's strategy committee in November, before the authority makes its final decision in December.

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