PARKING charges, which would signal the “death knell” for Sudbury, will not be introduced if the town council is successful in wrestling the management of the car parks from its district counterpart, writes Neil Bracegirdle.
Assurances that short-stay parking would remain free for three hours – should a business plan to take over the running of car parks in Sudbury be accepted by Babergh District Council – were made during a town council meeting on Tuesday.
Members of Sudbury Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce have been working on proposals to manage the car parks at Roys, the Kingfisher Leisure Centre and in Station Road since January.
The group hopes that by setting up a community interest company, short-stay charges can be avoided.
“Babergh sees charges as a revenue raiser but we know the loss of short-term parking would be the death knell for the town,” said Sudbury mayor Jack Owen.
“If this group fails to come up with the goods, the implication is that Babergh could force short-term charges on Sudbury.”
With the business plan due to be discussed by the district council, Sudbury councillors viewed the draft proposals this week but were confused by the lack of financial detail.
Many also queried why Babergh would be willing to give up the car parks given the income they generate, and questioned who would manage them day-to-day.
Oliver Forder asked: “Where are the resources to run the car parks going to come from?
“I doubt the town council has the resources and the plans seem to be aspirational.”
Nigel Bennett said other communities which currently enjoyed free parking, such as Hadleigh and Lavenham, needed to support the plans and asked whether long-stay charges would need to be increased to make the scheme viable.
Tony Platt, a member of the car park group, said the plans had very little financial information at this stage as this was still being calculated, adding that if Babergh refused the plan any work would be a “waste of time”.
“There would definitely be no short-term charging, we would keep long-term charging and maintain the status quo as far as possible,” he said.
“We do not want to call on the resources of the town council, but we may have to.”
Mr Owen said that it was likely the business community would need to put their “hands in their pockets” to make the plan possible.
A final draft will go before the town council in the coming months.