Parking charges frozen despite plea

UNPOPULAR car parking charges are being frozen at a market town - but opposition councillors say the district council should have gone further and cut the fees.

UNPOPULAR car parking charges are being frozen at a market town - but opposition councillors say the district council should have gone further and cut the fees.

Motorists in Stowmarket currently pay between 50p and £2.50 to park at Ipswich Street, Milton Road and Bury Street, and between 50p and £2 at the Meadow Centre and Iliffe Way.

At a meeting of Mid Suffolk District Council's executive committee this week, councillors voted to leave the charges unchanged.

This follows significant changes to the tariffs in April 2004. The council took £556,295 in fees during 2004/2005 compared with £354,151 in 2003/2004.


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Chris Fry, a director with the authority, had argued for the freeze believing that changes at this time would be counterproductive.

He believed if people stayed in the town longer it helped traders locally and if tariffs were changed, visitors would leave Stowmarket quicker.

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Roy Barker, Conservative, said freezing charges was excellent news for the town and said that the council was showing that it hoped to help regenerate the community.

He said: “It would be lovely if we had free car parks, that would be an ideal world, but the car parks need to be maintained.''

But Duncan Macpherson, Labour group leader and a Stowmarket district councillor, said: “The number of shoppers and visitors coming into Stowmarket is still down, as a result of the Conservative district council price rises, and the time spent by each shopper is also still down, and will take a very long time to recover.

“This is further proof of what we told Mid Suffolk Tories when they first put up the parking charges, they are using Stowmarket shoppers as a source of income for the whole district, whilst holding back the development of the town and its regeneration.

“We've succeeded in persuading them that enough is enough and charges shouldn't rise further, but as they are now sitting on a government grant increase of 11%, shouldn't they now be thinking about reducing at least some of the charges, to lift the number of shoppers and visitors.''

And Andrew Stringer, a Green district councillor, said: “I did not think for one minute this administration would cut its rates and we are glad they have not put them up yet again. But I seriously think cuts need to be looked at, because of the impact on the town.''

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