Shoppers' anger at parking fee plan

SHOPPERS have said an emphatic "no" to controversial plans to introduce car-parking charges in three market towns.Babergh District Council is considering introducing charges to park in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham in an effort to ensure council tax increases do not exceed the rate of inflation.

SHOPPERS have said an emphatic "no" to controversial plans to introduce car-parking charges in three market towns.

Babergh District Council is considering introducing charges to park in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham in an effort to ensure council tax increases do not exceed the rate of inflation.

Yesterday, the EADT took to the streets of both Sudbury and Lavenham to ask shoppers their opinion on the matter - and the message to Babergh was clear.

Richard Sills of Bures, who travels to Sudbury weekly to do his shopping, said: "I hope the charges are not introduced. One of the joys of Sudbury is being able to come here and park for nothing and with little inconvenience.


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"I am sure the charges would drive many people away from the town. If people have to pay to park in the town centre or park for nothing at out-of-town superstores it would be another nail in the coffin for local traders. I would rather pay a little extra council tax than to see shops struggle and close."

John Colgate, 36, of Sudbury, said: "I think if people have to pay to park the situation would get worse and worse for the shops in the town centre. Charges would drive shoppers away and Sudbury could become like a ghost town. I think we should look after the traders."

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Mandy Swain, of Great Cornard, who regularly shops in Sudbury, said: "Parking has always been free here so to introduce charges now would hit us very hard. We already pay enough in council tax and I don't think it is right to have to pay to park just to keep the rates down. Sudbury is always very busy and one of the reasons is because it doesn't cost anything to park here."

However, one member of the public in Sudbury, Tony Simpson, said: "I think it would be a good idea if the charges were kept to a minimum. It would stop people clogging up the parking spaces all day and people would be able to quickly pop into the town and go again. I think it could actually improve the vitality of the town. The charges could help keep council tax down and improve things in the town."

In Lavenham people were also clearly against the introduction of charges.

Charlotte Churchard, 19, whose mother trades in the town, said: "Free parking is one of the things that attracts people here and I think the fees would hit traders hard."

Pensioner Maureen Bourne, who lives in Lavenham, said: "I think it is appalling to even consider bringing in the charges. All it would do is encourage more people to park on-street, and we already have terrible problem with that here."

Another resident, Jennifer Turner said: "I don't believe the fees would keep the council tax down. Free parking encourages people to come here and it should be kept that way."

More than 1,200 people have already signed a petition demanding the plans are thrown out and Sudbury Town Council, Lavenham Parish Council and Great Cornard Parish Council have officially lodged their disapproval.

The authority says it must consider introducing the fees to keep council tax increases down. Its overview and scrutiny committee says the fees should be introduced by 2005 which would raise £60,000 extra income for 2004/05 and then £300,000 annually.

Babergh officials estimate council tax charges for band D properties would rise by 3.1% if the charges are not introduced, but would be reduced to around 1.4% if accepted.

It is estimated the charges would cost around 20p for up to two hours, £1 for a day and £140 for an annual season ticket.

Babergh's strategy committee will discuss the charges on Thursday, before the full council makes a final decision at Easter.

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