Country Park may be locked up overnight

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge with Geoffrey Bray at Clare Castle Country Park ANL-151027-091657001
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge with Geoffrey Bray at Clare Castle Country Park ANL-151027-091657001

The trustees of Clare Country Park are seeking to stop residents using its car park for off-street parking and is considering locking the site overnight.

The proposals were outlined in a newsletter sent out to residents and businesses in the town.

Regular incidents of vandalism and alleged drug dealing at the park have culminated in the steps being considered, as well as a recent planning application which suggested the car park could be used by residents from a potential flat development.

Geoffrey Bray, chairman of the trust, said: “The car park is primarily for people using the park and visitors who come to Clare for the day.

“It should not be used by residents for off-street parking.”

In the design and access statement submitted by Clare Antiques in Malting Lane for nine flats, it states residents should be allowed to use the car park at an annual cost of £50 with 13 permits required.

However, although a small number of residents who visit the park regularly have permits, the trust says a reasonable amount for residents parking everyday would be £500 a year.

“We have to ensure we safeguard the income we generate from car parking for the park,” said Mr Bray.

“We don’t want people buying houses on the basis the permit will be £50 when it won’t.”

The metered car park has around 90 spaces which bring in around £45,000 a year and during summer weekends if often full.

Mr Bray added that anti-social behaviour at the car park was a persistent issue at night time and re-installing an entrance gate, which would be locked overnight, was a ‘sensible’ option.

“The car park has been used by drug takers and dealers and those who drive here and indulge in mindless vandalism,” he said.

“That is not the sort of anti-social behaviour we want.”

At this stage the trust has made it clear that no final decision has been made and although the present £50 permit charge used by those who work in the town or visit the park often will be reviewed, it will not be changed for the ‘foreseeable future’.