Town's parking charges 'will be frozen'
THE leader of a district council has said he wants to see a market town's deeply unpopular car parking charges frozen for two years running.Tim Passmore, Conservative leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said shoppers have had to endure large rises at Stowmarket's car parks and he wants to start reversing that trend.
By John Howard
THE leader of a district council has said he wants to see a market town's deeply unpopular car parking charges frozen for two years running.
Tim Passmore, Conservative leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said shoppers have had to endure large rises at Stowmarket's car parks and he wants to start reversing that trend.
This year the Conservative-Independent administration voted to leave the rates unchanged and now Mr Passmore says he hopes to see that continue into the following year.
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The car parking tariffs vary according to the length of stay at the council run car parks in Stowmarket and Mr Passmore said: “We have frozen car parking charges and would like to do so again next year. Car parking is an issue, and I understand that.
“We have had some big increases previously and I would like to freeze that. I do not agree with taking all this extra money from people.
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“Our intention is to freeze car parking charges again, because we want to see Stowmarket regenerate and we think car parking charges are an integral part of that.
“We have got to manage our resources and take each year at a time. It's all dependent on the contribution from the Government, but that's our current intention.”
The administration's pledge comes after opposition councillors criticised the authority for harming their town's economy after it emerged that visits have dropped by more than 55,000 because of unpopular car parking charges.
Mid Suffolk District Council Labour group leader Duncan Macpherson said official figures showed a huge reduction in the number of shoppers coming into Stowmarket because of large rises in car park charges imposed by the district council.
At a recent district council meeting, through a formal written question, Mr Macpherson asked the ruling Conservative-Independent administration to reveal the exact size of the impact on Stowmarket.
Conservative Roy Barker told the meeting that there was an annual drop of 56,446 visits to the town's car parks.
But Conservative councillors subsequently revealed that they are still taking £200,000 a year extra because of the big rise in charges, despite the smaller number of visitors to the town.
Mr Barker, the Conservative councillor whose portfolio includes car parking, said that if savings can be made elsewhere he would like to see charges frozen.