'Parking charges caused road chaos'

By Sarah ChambersUNPOPULAR new parking charges in a seaside town led to traffic chaos over the busy summer season, traders have claimed.Peter Watson, chairman of Aldeburgh Business Association, said the controversial charges, introduced at the end of July in the town's Oakley Square, were "acting as a significant deterrent to residents and visitors alike".

By Sarah Chambers

UNPOPULAR new parking charges in a seaside town led to traffic chaos over the busy summer season, traders have claimed.

Peter Watson, chairman of Aldeburgh Business Association, said the controversial charges, introduced at the end of July in the town's Oakley Square, were "acting as a significant deterrent to residents and visitors alike".

Charges are also due to be introduced soon at nearby King Street car park – despite opposition from the business association and residents.

Suffolk Coastal District Council controversially agreed to the introduction of the fees at both car parks in Aldeburgh earlier this year, along with others at selected car parks within the district, including equally unpopular charges at Sizewell beach.

Mr Watson said he and association members had been keeping an eye on the car parks since the introduction of charges.

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"All we see are empty spaces. In our busy season in August you just don't get empty car parking spaces," he added.

Motorists were avoiding the fee-paying spaces and circling the town in search of an empty slot, causing congestion problems, he claimed.

Mr Watson added drivers unable to find a space had been opting to park in narrow residential roads away from the town centre, such as The Terrace, Fawcett Road, Beaconsfield Road and Lee Road.

"Close to midday on August 19, a busy day in the high season, there were 11 empty car parking spaces, whilst the High Street itself and the residential roads around the High Street were choked with traffic cruising to find free car parking spaces and choc-a-bloc with parked cars, many impinging on pavements, private driveways etc," he said.

Mr Watson pointed out that the business association had predicted these problems would occur and had warned Suffolk Coastal District Council about them.

He urged residents concerned about the congestion problems to voice their objections through their district councillors.

"The district council's policy of introducing car parking charges to these two town centre car parks is wrong. The more our community voices its objections through our district councillors, the more likely it is that the district council will react to local opposition," said Mr Watson.

Andy Smith, the Suffolk Coastal District Council cabinet member with responsibility for car parks, said he would be happy to meet with Mr Watson to discuss the situation.

"Twenty or 30p is not for the vast majority of people a disincentive. It's going to be very hard to see why Aldeburgh should become a special case in relation to the other towns," he added.

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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