Parking charges hikes put on hold
PROPOSALS for a big increase in car parking charges in north Suffolk have been dropped after a furious response from local residents and businesses.Waveney District Council members were being recommended to approve increases of more than 70% in car parking charges in the towns of Halesworth, Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth that would have seen all-day parking costs increase from £1.
By David Lennard
PROPOSALS for a big increase in car parking charges in north Suffolk have been dropped after a furious response from local residents and businesses.
Waveney District Council members were being recommended to approve increases of more than 70% in car parking charges in the towns of Halesworth, Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth that would have seen all-day parking costs increase from £1.75 to £3.
The proposals were first highlighted by the EADT last week and sparked anger among people living and working in the district.
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Now, council leader Mark Bee has said he was only made aware of the proposed increases last week and is unhappy with them.
“I can understand how people are angry at such large increases and have had the car parking item removed from this Thursday's executive agenda,” he said.
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“I have asked our officers to look again at the problem of car parking and I also want to see a lot more public consultation before any new proposals come before us.”
The decision to withdraw the car parking item from this week's executive meeting has been welcomed by Philip Reeve, chairman of Halesworth Business Connections.
“I am pleased that Mr Bee has recognised our genuine concerns following the sort of increases that were being proposed,” he said.
“We would also welcome the opportunity to take part in any consultations with the district council on car parking and other issues that affect our town.
Business owners in Halesworth said increasing car park charges by so much would have a devastating impact on local shops.
Jonathan Carman, who runs an investment company in the town, said: “At a time when local shopkeepers are facing crippling pressure from large supermarkets this is just another nail in their coffin and will further discourage local shoppers.”
Alex Carr, of the Market Place Wine Shop, said: “We need to attract people to our market towns - not drive them away. Car parking in market towns needs to be free.”
There were similar responses from the business communities in Southwold, Beccles and Bungay.
At Southwold, the cost of parking at the large car park close to the pier was not only set to rise but charges would be in place all-year round and not just during the summer months, as they are at present.
Other aspects of the report that upset local people included the removal of the free 30-minute car parking spaces at Halesworth and Beccles.
Some proposals did receive support, however, including the need for special commuter car parks for staff working in local shops and businesses and the change of town centre car parks from long-term to short-term.