Newmarket: Car park hikes postponed

COUNCIL chiefs have put off a decision about parking charge hikes until after next year’s local authority elections.

Forest Heath District Council had been thinking of imposing a second round of charge increases in Newmarket within the year to cover an expected �100,000 shortfall.

Current parking levels in the town are between 18 and 22% down year on year.

Despite imposing a tariff increase in April, council officers have recommended increasing them further - from the current 50p and 90p for two or three hours respectively to either 60p and �1.10 or 70p and �1 for the same duration.

Before April, the cost of parking in Newmarket was just 30p and 60p for two or three hours of parking.

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But the council’s community services committee has decided to put off making a decision until next June - after the May council elections.

In his report to the committee, Andrew Claydon, the council’s strategic director, said as well as a drop in motorists using the town’s car parks there had also been a drop in cash coming from fines.

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His report showed that to the end of October, income was down by �51,752.13 on projected figures and warned that a deficit of �100,000 was expected for the whole year.

The council had expected to make a profit of �820 on car parks by next April, with charges covering most of the �584,927 cost of operating and maintaining the car parks.

But he warned that other costs were in the pipeline, including the rise in VAT in January which would cost around �10,000 and modifications of replacement of the coin machines, which would cost up to �70,000.

Geoffrey Jaggard, the council leader, proposed putting off the review of charges until June.

He said: “It is quite a difficult situation to get your mind around. We need to wait and see where we get to at the end of the year.”

Eddie Stewart, who represents Brandon East on the council, said: “I don’t think any blame can be placed on anybody.

“If people aren’t using the car parks, what can you do?”

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