Sudbury/Hadleigh: Parking charges back on the agenda

North Street car park in Sudbury.

North Street car park in Sudbury.

THE PROSPECT of a raise in parking charges in Sudbury and Hadleigh has again been raised as a district council prepares to set its budget for the next financial year.

Babergh District Council’s strategy committee is set to meet on Thursday and take the first steps in the budget setting process for the 2013/14 tax year and beyond.

The council says it will have to make budget cuts in the face of a 6% reduction in funding from central government for 2013/14 and an ‘indication there will be a further cut of nearly 13% in 2014/15’.

“Things are bad and Babergh’s councillors are faced with making tough choices arising out of financial circumstances not of their making,” councillor. Jennie Jenkins, chairman of Babergh’s strategy committee, said.

While officials at Babergh would not speculate ahead of the meeting on where the cuts are likely to come from, a statement from the council said it was “reviewing all of its costs” and “fundamentally reviewing how we provide services”.

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The statement added: “This will include looking again at the cost of providing and managing car parking in the district as the council will need to consider and decide on a clear way of removing or reducing this cost in relation to future budgets.”

Moves to introduce short-stay parking charges in both towns were considered a year ago.

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However councillors agreed instead to increase council tax by 3.5% and charge more for their long-stay car parks.

The pending budget review puts pressure on a group of town councillors and chamber of commerce representatives from Sudbury and Hadleigh who are working to keep short-term parking free for drivers visiting the two towns.

The group is in the process of developing a business plan that it hopes will allow it to take control of the management of car parks from Babergh in order to achieve this.

Group member and Sudbury town councillor Tony Platt said: “We now have all the financial information from Babergh and over the next month to six weeks we hope to put together the first draft of our comprehensive business plan.

“We have also been in contact with a number of authorities around the country who are doing a similar things, to see what approach they are taking and how they are operating.”

Mr Platt said he was confident the group would have a workable plan in place by the summer – the deadline set by Babergh.

However, briefing notes sent out to members of Babergh’s strategy committee ahead of Thurday’s meeting warn: “If this does not produce a way forward by the summer of 2013, the council will have to consider other alternatives as part of the strategic and financial planning process for the 2014/15 budget.”

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