U-turn on lake parking charges
EXCLUSIVEBy John HowardA COUNCIL will make today a partial U-turn on the deeply unpopular charges it wants to introduce for parking at a lake.The Conservative/Independent-administration at Mid Suffolk District Council has been considering charging people up to a £1 to park at Needham Lake as it strives to make savings and generate more money.
By John Howard
A COUNCIL will make today a partial U-turn on the deeply unpopular charges it wants to introduce for parking at a lake.
The Conservative/Independent-administration at Mid Suffolk District Council has been considering charging people up to a £1 to park at Needham Lake as it strives to make savings and generate more money.
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There are already parking charges in force in Stowmarket, much to the annoyance of traders and shoppers, and now Needham Market's lake could have fees introduced for the first time.
Councillors will discuss the idea again today after an outcry from residents and the Gipping Valley Angling Club, with many members warning they would not renew their membership or would want the lake deleted from club permits if the charges went ahead.
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The Gipping Valley Model Boat Club said it was also appalled with the plan and believed the proposed annual parking fee of £50 was too much.
Now council leader Roger Saunders has revealed the administration intended to make paid-up members of the angling and model boat clubs exempt from charges.
He added disabled badge holders and volunteers working on the site for the council's countryside service would also be exempt, while the annual ticket will also be kept down to £20.
Mr Saunders said there were also moves to set up a new visitor centre at the lakeside and the issue of charging would be reviewed again if that was set up.
The council said the lake required constant investment to maintain and claimed most people would not mind contributing a small amount to this in the form of parking charges.
But Wendy Marchant, one of the Liberal Democrat councillors who represents the town, said: "Anglers have paid already through their permits and rod licence, it's quite understandable they should not pay again.
"There are 380 fishing club members - with exemptions, these car parking charges are coming less and less viable. I feel that the lakeside should be free for everyone to visit.
"It would be better to see Mid Suffolk District Council use the money in a positive way rather than negatively, spending tens of thousands of pounds setting up something no-one wants.
"Once the council has put this in place the charges will not stop at the same price. The track record is that once car parking meters are in, the price goes up year after year."