Parking charges could still go ahead

CONTROVERSIAL car parking fees could still be introduced in three market towns after protesters failed in a last minute bid to have the unpopular proposals thrown out.

CONTROVERSIAL car parking fees could still be introduced in three market towns after protesters failed in a last minute bid to have the unpopular proposals thrown out.

Babergh District Council faced fresh called to abandon the plans to introduce parking charges in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham, during a heating meeting yesterday.

Despite strong calls to have the plans rejected the council voted 25-16 to defer any decision on them to allow for further in-depth investigation.

A recent public consultation showed 50% of those who took part were opposed to the charges, while only 24% were in favour.

Sudbury Town Council, Great Cornard Parish Council and Lavenham Parish Council have all lodged opposition to the plans.

During yesterday's meeting Sudbury town mayor and Babergh councillor, John Sayers, said: "This is a painful exercise and it is all to do with the vitality of Sudbury and its economic strength, we should finally drop this issue."

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Fellow councillor Nigel Bennett added: "There is unanimous opposition to these charged and the scale of that opposition is very clear. Towns like Sudbury have had a growth of out of town developments that are served by free parking. These charges will create an unfair playing field for town centres."

Another councillor Nick Ridley said the charges have to be considered to prevent further council tax increases.

"We have been told that without any new income we are looking at a figure of 10% increase in council tax charges next year. If we rule out possibility of car parking charges, then we are ruling out a new source of income," he said.

The council voted to carry out further investigations into the charges and the affects they will have on the towns involved.

More consultation will now be carried out in all three towns and resulting recommendations need to be put forward by September to allow the authority to consider including the charges in its 2005-6 budget.

It is estimated the charges would generate £300,000 a year for the authority.

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