Pay to park outside your house
By Benedict O'ConnorRESIDENTS may soon be asked to pay to leave their cars outside their homes under controversial plans to deal with a town's parking problems.
By Benedict O'Connor
RESIDENTS may soon be asked to pay to leave their cars outside their homes under controversial plans to deal with a town's parking problems.
As well as introducing charges at all of Newmarket's public car parks, it has emerged that residents' parking permits may also be introduced in the town.
Robin Millar, vice-chairman of Forest Heath District Council's parking working group, said: "Parking here is very limited anyway for residents, without having to compete with commuters and shoppers for spaces.
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"The introduction of permit-controlled on-street parking for residents can only give them a better chance of parking near their homes."
Mr Millar said although there were no concrete plans, the council was investigating the proposal in order to "protect parking for residents" from shoppers and visitors for the town.
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He thought it was likely there would be a charge for the permits, but was unable to say how much it would be. "Inevitably there will be an administration fee, but at this stage I don't know what the details," added Mr Millar.
There was outcry from residents and businesses when the council decided to introduce parking fees in the town last August.
They feared the charges would kill trade in the town centre and cause parking and traffic chaos, and 7,000 people signed a petition against the move.
But only one councillor, Terry Mills, voted against the introduction of fees and he has been a leading campaigner against them.
Mr Mills said of the latest development: "It doesn't surprise me. The whole issue of parking in Newmarket is not about managing the spaces we have, but about generating money for a cash-strapped council.
"When they've started charging for car parks, the streets are just the next move. I remain firmly opposed to it."
Warwick Hirst, a member of Newmarket Town Council who has spoken on behalf of residents against the introduction of parking fees, was equally opposed to the permits idea.
"I'm against parking charges full stop. Just because they have them elsewhere it doesn't mean we should have them here. For me, off-road and residential is all the same," he said.
"Because of Newmarket's character there is very little in the way of garages and off-street parking. What they need to be doing is looking at securing more space, not introducing charges which will make the current situation even worse."
Mr Millar said it was the council's aim to involve the public as much as possible in planning the town's parking strategy.
He added the idea of residents' permits had been welcomed by people who had already been consulted and who feared their spaces would be lost to shoppers and visitors who did not wish to use car parks where charges were levied.
"We recognise Newmarket is very attractive and we need to provide the infrastructure, which parking is a part of, so we can get the best out of it," said Mr Millar.
The parking proposals are due to be discussed at a meeting of the council's community services committee on Thursday.