Parking charges for market towns
CAR parking charges could be introduced in Suffolk market towns as councils struggle to raise income without putting up council tax.Mid Suffolk District Council is reviewing how to save money and generate more income after it was left with a £1m gap in its budget plans after a lower than expected cash settlement from the Government, for services next year.
CAR parking charges could be introduced in Suffolk market towns as councils struggle to raise income without putting up council tax.
Mid Suffolk District Council is reviewing how to save money and generate more income after it was left with a £1m gap in its budget plans after a lower than expected cash settlement from the Government, for services next year.
The council currently has parking charges in Stowmarket and is considering extending the same level of charges to Needham Market, Debenham and Eye.
The charging could affect council car parks in Needham Market at Hurstlea Road(76 spaces), the High Street(20 spaces), Station Yard(30 spaces) and Needham Lake(unallocated parking); in Eye at Cross Street(66 spaces) and Buckshorn Lane(62 spaces); and in Debenham at Cross Green(17 spaces).
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The plans are at an early stage and a report goes to the Council Executive on January 5. It will go out to public consultation if charging goes ahead.
Ray Lee, assets and contracts manager at the district council, said: "It is no secret that, like all other local authorities, we are desperately looking at ways of raising additional income without putting up council tax."
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Wendy Marchant, a Needham Market district councillor, said: "Needham Market is at the moment free of car parking charges, which is marvellous, this benefits shoppers and traders, encouraging people to shop here.
"It's good for visitors to the town too, tourists, and would be a retrograde step to charge."
A spokeswoman for the district council said a recent Civic Trust regeneration study suggested that there has been no impact on trade in Stowmarket from car parking charges and that current levels do not impact on the town's regeneration.
She said money from the changes in Stowmarket goes into a general fund, to be allocated for councillors priorities, to pay for maintaining and operating the car parks, and £20,000 goes towards the town's new CCTV cameras.
But some traders in Stowmarket are opposed to charging in their town the and the tariffs remain unpopular.
The council is also looking at closing some public toilets in Stowmarket, Needham Market and Debenham, to save money.
Meanwhile, Suffolk Coastal District Council's Cabinet will be asked to agree in principle to a series of proposals on car parks including increasing and introducing charges when they meet next week.
A car parks task group was set up in July to review policy and look at charging. It meets again on December 15 to discuss possible price increases, and introducing charges at various sites.
The five free car parks earmarked are Manor Terrace and Garrison Lane in Felixstowe, King Street and Oakley Square in Aldeburgh and The Avenue in Woodbridge.
Aldeburgh Business Association is opposed to the proposals, saying it could deter shoppers and push parking onto residential streets.
The cabinet meeting will also look at proposals to use funds raised from car parks on projects other than car park improvements and maintenance.
The plan is to use money raised for other town council services, enhancement and transport related initiatives.
A report which will go before the cabinet said: "It is important not to deter shoppers and visitors from the district's towns and to maintain charges at a competitive and comparatively low level.
"The motorist faces car park charges in most towns these days, however small, and charges are moderate compared with larger towns such as Ipswich and other East Anglian coastal districts, such as North Norfolk District Council."