Suffolk: What it costs to park around the county

The Cattle Market Car Park in Bury.

The Cattle Market Car Park in Bury.

TODAY we revealed the results of a survey that showed reducing parking charges could help boost our major shopping districts, market towns and high streets.

Here we look at what it costs to park in the various boroughs and districts around Suffolk.


Ipswich Borough Council has recently slashed the prices of its town centre car parks to £1 an hour – and free after 8pm. The council’s transport portfolio-holder Philip Smart said: “Since we took this action we have seen a big jump is usage so we know it is working.”

There are 5,015 parking spaces in Ipswich town centre, 33% of which are operated by Ipswich Borough Council, with the remainder run by private operators.

Mr Smart said while ‘residents’ vouchers’ might work well in market towns, Ipswich as a regional centre, is in a different position. He continued: “Colchester, Tendring and Forest Heath are all examples of councils whose administrative areas extend well beyond the town boundaries.

“In Ipswich we try to attract people from Hadleigh, Woodbridge and Stowmarket, all of which are ‘market towns’ in areas covered by other authorities. We are working with partners such as Ipswich Central on some great parking deals but would like other car park operators to follow our cheap parking lead. It is a myth that Ipswich is expensive - £1 an hour is cheaper than many car parks in Norwich, Cambridge and Colchester.”

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Vehicle owners in the Babergh area can park all day in the main car parks in Sudbury and Hadleigh for £2. The local authority is one of the only district/borough councils in Suffolk that still offers free parking for up to three hours.

Babergh is currently reviewing the management of car parks in the two towns, but it has been confirmed that free short stay parking will be maintained.

The council is also working in partnership with Sudbury Steering Group and a dedicated car parking group to look at a range of options to improve car parking. Babergh wants to make the car parks as user friendly as possible, particularly for short stay customers. Possibilities such as not having to display a ‘free’ car parking ticket while parked for less than three hours are among changes being explored.

A council spokesman said a wide range of issues needed to be considered to help high streets thrive, and encourage growth and success. He added: “It is felt that it would be wrong to concentrate on a single issue such as car parking as the main factor for success or failure. A collaborative approach is needed involving all key stakeholders rather than answers that only consider a single issue.”

Suffolk Coastal

Aldeburgh already has easy, cheap and convenient parking, according to the town’s business association chairman, Naomi Tarry. Motorists can park for up to four hours in the Oakley Square car park for £2.00, and pay £4.00 to park there all day. But Ms Tarry said an innovative solution was needed to tackle parking problems during the busy school holiday season.

She said: “We have approached Suffolk Coastal District Council through the Aldeburgh Town Council and are in discussions with them about the options. However we’re told that funding is tight which is a concern.”

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal said the authority has commissioned a strategic review with Waveney District Council into how best to meet the needs of the community.

He added: “However, we need to take a balanced approach to this issue to ensure that what is put in place does not have a detrimental impact on the council’s revenue budget and the public purse.

“Car parking revenue presently provides essential income that subsidises other vital council services and the review - which is taking place over the next six months - will look at ways to avoid further service cuts.”

Forest Heath

Car parking in Forest Heath’s smaller towns of Mildenhall and Brandon is still free. But in Newmarket, the authority charges £1 for up to three hours in the town’s short stay car parks and £2 for up to eight hours in its long stay facilities.

Forest Heath District Council leader James Waters, said: “We are very aware that we need to take into account things such as the local circumstances of our town centres, making sure visitors can get close to shops, and safety for our car park users.

“In Newmarket we are investing £150,000 of developer funding in providing much-needed long stay spaces in the Guineas car park, with extra CCTV and other improvements to tackle anti-social behaviour. Managing car parks is much more than simply charging for spaces.”

Mid-Suffolk - Stowmarket

Motorists can park in Stowmarket for two hours for £1. Town centre manager Sharon Brown has welcomed the changes but called for shoppers to be able to park free of charge.

Season tickets in the town were recently reduced from £500 to £300 a year.

Ms Brown, town centre manager for Stowmarket Town Centre Partnership, said: “We are pleased with any initiative that encourages shoppers to stay longer in the town, although ideally we would like to see a free period of parking introduced; £1 for two hours represents good value when compared with parking charges in the larger towns.”

Mid Suffolk District Council has said free parking would be too complicated to implement.

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