Teenager invited to speak ahead of council meeting on Sudbury parking charges

Sudbury teenager Thomas Morelli with a copy of his petition, which was rejected by Babergh District Council

Sudbury teenager Thomas Morelli with a copy of his petition, which was rejected by Babergh District Council - Credit: Contributed

A Sudbury teenager who collected more than 1,600 signatures in protest at a range of community issues - including a free parking shake-up -  has been invited to address councillors.

Thomas Morelli, 17, collected 1,662 signatures from Sudbury residents over 10 days in late December and early January in protest of three contentious issues in the town.

He said he was looking to highlight Babergh's proposals to reduce the length of free parking in Sudbury, the council's decision to discontinue funding of the customer access point at the town hall and the marketing of land at Belle Vue Park.

The petition was delivered to Babergh on Monday, but the following day Thomas was informed it had not been accepted as he had failed to collect addresses. The council said this is to prevent fraud and stressed that petitions should also only cover a single issue because some people may support one issue and not all three.

Babergh has, however, invited the youngster to voice his concerns at next week's virtual full council meeting.

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Thomas said he has declined this offer as a matter of principle.

He said: "To disqualify a showing of collective opinion 1,662 people-strong, based on what could strongly be argued to be a technicality, would be to go against the principles of democracy itself.

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"I just don't think it's justifiable at all."

A spokesman for Babergh said: "We recognise the efforts that Thomas went to in capturing public feeling on this issues and we are keen to encourage him – and others – to take part in local democracy.

"We welcome petitions and are happy to provide advice and support on how to go about setting them up.  We even provide templates and the facility to launch e-petitions on our website for anyone who wishes to start their own.

"There are some rules that need to be followed – for example, we need names and full addresses to avoid fraud, and petitions should cover one issue that everyone signs to say they support.

"Not, as in this case, multiple issues, with some people supporting one element, but not others."

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