Sudbury: Residents call for changes in law to combat parking issues

FRESH calls have been made for parking to be decriminalised in a west Suffolk town, after the local council received dozens of complaints about vehicles being left in side streets outside residents’ homes.

Town councillors in Sudbury say the problem has developed since charges were introduced for long-stay parking.

And in a bid to solve the issue, they have asked the county council to introduce civil parking enforcement (CPE). This is where an application is made to the Government for parking enforcement powers to be transferred from the police to the county highways authority, which means parking offences are no longer “criminal”.

But policed by civilian parking officers, the increased level of enforcement under CPE means motorists are more likely to receive a penalty charge notice if they contravene regulations.

However, county officials say the measure would need to be introduced Suffolk-wide, which would be a costly and lengthy process, so they would prefer towns to introduce residents permit parking instead.

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According to the council, the only part of Suffolk that has decriminalised parking is the borough of Ipswich.

Several complaints from residents in Sudbury’s Edgeworth Road and Corporal Lillie Close have been passed to the county.

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But at a recent highways and footpaths meeting in Sudbury, councillor Russell Smith said their pleas had been met with a “brick wall”.

He added: “It is shocking how many letters we get about this and we need to start getting the message out to the wider community that we are keen for the introduction of parking permits. Just because the county says no doesn’t mean we have to accept it.” His colleague, Nigel Bennett, said the county would not decriminalise parking in Sudbury because it would cost them too much.

“Realistically, they know that if car parking charges are introduced in a town, people will park in the streets and the residents will ask for permits. But why would the county council spend the money when it isn’t going to be a benefit to them?” he asked.

A county council spokesman confirmed Sudbury had asked for the decriminalisation of parking. But he said decriminalisation was completely separate from residents permit parking, and that CPE was not required for the introduction of resident parking schemes, which were normally managed by district councils.

He said the county had discussed residents parking schemes with several other Suffolk towns, and there were already long-standing schemes in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft, which were managed by the district and borough councils.

The spokesman said: “Sudbury Town Council has contacted the county council and it has been explained that the introduction of civil parking enforcement is a major issue which involves significant cost and which would include an application to the Secretary of State. [Therefore], Suffolk County Council’s preference is that this would be introduced on a much wider basis.”

He added: “With residents permit parking though, the general approach is that any scheme has to be self-financing and this means there has to be a persistent and widespread problem of non-local parking to justify a scheme.”

He said county representatives would be prepared to meet with the town council and Sudbury residents to discuss the matter further.

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