Backlash averted, thank goodness common sense prevailed

It seems common sense has prevailed and short-stay car parking will remain free of charge in Sudbury and Hadleigh.

All I can say is thank goodness. Nobody was keen on this idea and, from speaking to retailers, town councillors and people on the street, it was clear there would have been a huge backlash if Babergh District Council had chosen to proceed with this option.

Obviously, savings need to be made from somewhere to allow the authority to balance its books, but axing the three hours of free parking in the towns’ car parks would have been a step too far.

Already side streets are clogged with cars as a result of drivers being unwilling to pay £1.50 a day for the privilege to park where they work.

What would have happened if the free parking had been abolished? Well, I can only imagine the problem would have become a good deal worse.

We are living in difficult times, but the good news is that Sudbury and Hadleigh are surviving. They both enjoy a steady stream of visitors and, if shops are forced to close, then it is not normally very long before they are replaced by something new.

Mary Portas, “The Queen of Shops” herself, has championed the merits of cheap parking in our towns and cities to help boost trade, and introducing short-stay charges would have seen shoppers choosing destinations where they are not required to pay.

I understand that it is now likely Babergh will increase long-stay charges to £2 and although I am not totally in a favour of this move, it is preferable to losing free parking.

A compromise has been reached and it is one we should not complain too bitterly about.

For many, January is a horrible month. It is grey, miserable and generally freezing cold. You go to work in the dark and return home in the dark.

Money is tight following the festivities of Christmas, and the days just seems to drag on and on and on.

Spare a thought then for those of us (myself included) who have a birthday in this, the first month of the year. We, in my view, have been cursed.

Nobody wants to go out, you can forget about a cake (as mum and dad are on their annual diet after overdoing it on the Quality Street) and presents are a no-no.

I am constantly being berated by my girlfriend, family and friends that I am too difficult to buy for, and how can I possibly need anything after the big man in the red suit’s recent visit.

So, in my wisdom, I have decided to go somewhere even more miserable and colder than where I normally spend my birthday... Edinburgh.

Of course, I am sure it will be lovely and it is my first trip to Scotland as well. So to all those unlucky enough to be born in January, I offer this advice: don’t work on your birthday, do something you’ve never done before and buy yourself a woolly hat as a present.