Traders' fears over parking charges
SHOPKEEPERS warned yesterday they could lose trade when free parking is abolished.Nearly 2,000 people have signed petitions opposing the charges in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, despite Suffolk Coastal District Council already agreeing in principle to introduce them.
By Richard Smith
SHOPKEEPERS warned yesterday they could lose trade when free parking is abolished.
Nearly 2,000 people have signed petitions opposing the charges in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, despite Suffolk Coastal District Council already agreeing in principle to introduce them.
The decision still has to be ratified by the council's cabinet and charges may not come in for another 18 months.
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The move is set to be made because the council has upgraded the car parks in recent years and it needs a return on the expenditure.
Wickham Market and Framlingham are currently the only two market towns in the district with free parking.
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In Framlingham a covenant makes it difficult to implement charges in one car park, and now traders in Wickham Market are worried they could lose shoppers who will go to Framlingham.
Catherine Thornber, the district's economic regeneration and development manager, said £10,000 a year could be made through charging for parking on The Hill and in Crafers car park. It would cost at least £13,500 to buy ticket machines, arrange the electrical supply and change signs.
But Bryan Hall, Wickham Market's district councillor, said: “I argued that Wickham Market had a fragile business structure, particularly if charges could not be implemented for legal reasons at Framlingham and Wickham traders might lose out.
“It was agreed that further consultation has to take place with the Wickham Market Parish Council before any final decision regarding the levels of charges, as well as the complex issues surrounding Chapel Lane car park, be taken.”
Margaret Reeve, who runs the Tea Pot tearoom, said: “I think it will kill the trade and then Suffolk Coastal will have no business rates because there will be no shops.”
Peter Elliott, a resident of Chapel Lane, said: “The fear is that it will push people out of the car parks onto the side roads and Chapel Lane will become a car park.”
The parish council is worried that the issues about car parking in the village are complicated by the mixture of different ownerships.
It warned that if the district council imposed charges in its car parks, then motorists would park in private car parks or on streets.
Michael Argent, council chairman, said: “Our real fear is that people will stop coming to the village and go elsewhere, and services and facilities will be underused.
“We said if charges are going to be introduced then do it properly, enforce it properly and perhaps have a free period for an hour in the Square so that people can use the shops. If it is not done properly then it is best to leave it alone.”