Parking charges campaign reaps rewards

East Anglian Daily Times readers have played their part in preventing huge increases in the price of car parking in north Suffolk getting the go-ahead.

By David Lennard

East Anglian Daily Times readers have played their part in preventing huge increases in the price of car parking in north Suffolk getting the go-ahead.

Earlier this month Waveney District Council announced proposals that would have seen rises of between 71% and 250% for parking in Lowestoft and the market towns of Halesworth, Southwold, Beccles and Bungay.

The EADT launched its “Fair Price To Park” campaign aimed at opposing the price increases for the area's market towns whose economy relies on attracting visitors and nearby residents - and now the proposals look to have been shelved.

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Readers responded magnificently to the campaign and in just a week more than 150 replies had been received at newsagents in the Halesworth and Southwold area or posted directly to our Halesworth editorial office.

All those who replied lived within a few miles of the market towns that were threatened with the huge hike in car parking prices.

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Business leaders in the market towns also voiced their opposition to the proposed new charges that would have seen long-term parking in towns like Halesworth and Bungay increase from £1.75 to £3.

In some car parks in central Lowestoft car park charges were proposed to rise from £2.75 for more than four hours to £7 for stays longer than three hours.

Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee withdrew the car parking item from an executive committee meeting planned for earlier this month and set up a special meeting that will take place this Thursday, October 27.

And now Mr Bee has said that new proposals - featuring much smaller price hikes - will be put forward but nothing will be decided about the new charges at Thursday's meeting.

“We have asked our officers to come up with a new set of proposals but even if they prove more acceptable than those originally proposed we will not be imposing any changes on Thursday,” he said.

Mr Bee said it was important for all those with an interest in the car parking charges for Waveney to have their say, including the EADT readers who have responded to our campaign and local business representatives.

“It is important that everyone has an opportunity to have their say on such an important subject,” he said.

“I have asked Waveney officers to consult with as many people as possible including town and parish councils, business associations and local resident groups.”

Mr Bee said that no final decision on new car parking charges for Waveney would be made until a budgetary meeting planned for next February.

“An important aspect to remember is that even the revised proposals are not set in stone.

“We want to hear the views of everyone concerned,” he said.

Some of the proposed changes to car parks in the Waveney area have been well received, however, including changing car parks in the centre of towns to short-term parking only.

This policy is in line with Suffolk County Council's overall strategy for car parks across Suffolk.

“We are currently working with our officers and hope to be able to freeze short-term car parking costs,” said Mr Bee.

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