Parking fines? Not since April

Motorists who flout the three-hour time limit in Sudbury car parks have been getting away with it for almost a year.

No parking fines have been issued in the town's three short-stay car parks since April, it has been revealed.

The news comes as car park owner Babergh Council faces rebellion over its decision to spend almost 87,000 installing ticket machines to make it easier to nab drivers who overstay.

Five council members – four from Sudbury and one from Hadleigh – have signed a request to have the decision reconsidered, saying Babergh's strategy committee acted unreasonably.

Dean Walton, Mark Newman, John Sayers and Adrian Osborne from Sudbury and Brian Riley from Hadleigh are unhappy with the cost and the failure to consult the town councils.

Hadleigh already has machines but the council plans to replace them at the same time it puts them into Sudbury.

Babergh made 4,680 from parking fines in Sudbury in 2006/7. But in 2008 no tickets were handed out, although the council had budgeted to make just under 13,000.

Hadleigh's figures are 8,320 for 06/07, and 5,040 so far for the current financial year, which ends in April.

In Sudbury car parks the warden has previously enforced the rules by noting down registration numbers by hand.

A Babergh spokesman said that in the last year the warden had sorted out issues including moving on able-bodied drivers parked in disabled bays.

He said the effective management of the car parks – ensuring drivers did not overstay and collecting excess charges – depended on two factors.

"The first involves the use of enforcement orders and Babergh is in the process of updating and simplifying these across all our car parks," he said.

"The second is the need for a more efficient system whereby the council can issue excess charge notices.

"In the case of Sudbury this has been reliant for some time on one car park warden, who must also cover Babergh's other car parks, to administer the 546 short-stay spaces by manually recording the registration numbers, space numbers and times cars arrive, then checking them at the end of the permitted period.

"This is an extremely inefficient process. The purpose of the reccomendation to the last strategy committee (for machines) was designed to overcome this."

Meanwhile, Mr Riley, one of the councillors calling for a rethink, attacked Babergh's plans to double car park spending.

He told a meeting of Hadleigh Town Council that he was very unhappy with the way Babergh had brought forward the proposals.

"Car parks currently cost 43,000, which is an awful lot of cheap asphalt and white paint, so I have no wish to see a doubling of spending in this area."

He criticised Babergh for not debating the decision in full council – and said officers had been instructed to investigate ways of bringing in parking charges."

Hadleigh mayor Mary Munson said people were jumping the gun on the issue of parking charges.

"We all know there are people parking for too long and abusing the system in Sudbury.

“It is difficult to identify when people arrive to park in the town and at the moment there is little income from parking illegally.”

Babergh’s budget proposals for the coming year include looking closely at all income-generating opportunities, including car parking, as the council struggles to maintain services in the face of a 700,000 shortfall.

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