Sudbury: Parking takeover bid a step closer

AN ambitious plan by Sudbury Town Council to assume management of three car parks in Suffolk could involve cutting the number of parking wardens in a bid to make the scheme financially viable.

Members of a group established to come up with a plan for the management of car parks in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham held a meeting on Monday.

Although some local councillors remain unconvinced that the proposal could work, group member Tony Platt said Babergh’s political leaders’ group had given the scheme the “amber light” and Hadleigh town and Lavenham parish councils were considering the proposal seriously.

Lavenham only has 104 parking spaces to manage, while Hadleigh has 300 and Sudbury has 1068. Parking in Lavenham is currently free, while motorists can park for up to three hours free of charge in Sudbury and Hadleigh. But because of cuts to Babergh’s budget, the local authority has threatened to introduce charges for short-term parking.

Mr Platt told Sudbury Town Council on Tuesday evening: “A meeting took place on Monday which Lavenham parish council chairman Roy Whitworth and Hadleigh mayor Mary Munson attended, and both of the authorities are keen to work with us.

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“We might have to look at individual local management in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham because they are all quite different. I believe Lavenham might be looking at involving a charity that runs their village hall while Hadleigh is considering getting a local supermarket involved.”

The scheme has been criticised because of the lack of financial detail. Mr Platt said it was difficult to provide solid figures based on current level of income generated from fines, because the group hoped to reduce the level of fining. He also said they were considering employing fewer wardens to cut costs. However, several town councillors are still unsure how the scheme could work in practice.

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One of them, Simon Clarke asked: “If the level of income is going down and there is to be no payment from short term parking, where will the income come from?”

His colleague Nigel Bennett said unless the same level of wardens policing the scheme was maintained, the council could lose money from people “getting away” with not paying long term fees.

Hadleigh town clerk Carol Bailey said the council was not ready to commit to the scheme, adding: “There are lots of things that need looking at before we can move forward on this but we are continuing to work on this behind the scenes and will probably discuss it at our next meeting on September 20.”

Mr Whitworth said he needed to consult his colleagues before making any announcements about Lavenhams’s involvement with the scheme. He added: “Parking is a very hot topic and the parking group obviously has some big issues to take into account. We are giving the whole matter consideration at the moment to make sure we are all on the same page, but we haven’t reached any formal decisions yet.”

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