Parking charge plan may be axed
PLANS to introduce car parking charges in three Suffolk towns look set to be scrapped, it has been revealed.Mid Suffolk District Council has been considering bringing in the charges from April at Needham Market, Eye and Debenham – looking at tariffs ranging from 30p to £2 depending on the length of stay.
By John Howard
PLANS to introduce car parking charges in three Suffolk towns look set to be scrapped, it has been revealed.
Mid Suffolk District Council has been considering bringing in the charges from April at Needham Market, Eye and Debenham - looking at tariffs ranging from 30p to £2 depending on the length of stay.
The authority is trying to plug a £1.5m gap in its budget following a worse than expected grant from central Government.
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The prospect of introducing the charges received an angry response in the affected towns, but Roger Saunders, Conservative leader of the council, said yesterday he would be asking councillors to drop the idea this week.
Mr Saunders said: "I'm going to recommend we do not proceed. We were and are in a dire financial situation and we have got to explore all measures of increasing revenue.
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"But we do not feel we can justify spending £135,000 capital for the strong possibility we will get a negative return.
"We would be complete ostriches if we spent that money and got it wrong and ended up costing the council money. We have had a look at the business case, which did not stack up.''
In a report to the executive committee, due to meet later this week, head of financial management Stephen Joyce warns the charges may not be commercially viable and could actually end up costing the council money as they implement it.
He said there was insufficient evidence that the introduction of pay and display charging would lead to a secure net income for the council.
He said the main reason for this is there has not been enough time allowed for a feasibility study and it has not been possible to gather reliable information about how much the car parks are used and the effect of introducing charges.
Councillors will be asked to agree on Friday that there is insufficient evidence to show that introducing pay and display charges would provide a secure income.
They will also vote on whether a more detailed survey needs to be undertaken.
Councillors had also considered charges at Woolpit, but on further investigation discovered that under the terms of the lease they have on the car park until 2040, charges cannot be introduced.