Car parking fines worth £87,000

IMPROVE SIGNS: Councillor Jack Owen thinks more could be done.
IMPROVE SIGNS: Councillor Jack Owen thinks more could be done.

Absent-minded drivers in Sudbury and Hadleigh are helping to swell council coffers to the tune of nearly £87,000 a year, it has been revealed.

Nearly 3,000 people were caught out last year when they failed to display a ticket in the town’s paid-for car parks, which are owned by Babergh District Council.

More than 700 drivers were fined for displaying expired tickets, with 342 people getting into trouble for parking outside the marked lines of a designated parking bay.

Last year a total of £86,903 was collected in fixed penalty charges, ranging from £25 to £55.

This has risen from the £43,414 paid in the first year charges were introduced.

The figures were obtained under a Freedom of Information request by David Holland, owner of Curtain Craft in King Street, who said: “I believe people are not predominantly being fined for misdeeds but instead for absent -mindedness and simply forgetting to take a ticket.

“What is clear is that, while our town has managed to fight off pay-per-visit short-stay charging, the district council has found another way to run the car parks to deliver revenue to itself but to the economic detriment of the town.”

Sudbury Chamber of Commerce president John McMillan, who is one of the members of the Sudbury and Hadleigh Car Parking Group which meets quarterly with Babergh District Council, disagrees.

He said: “Babergh’s view is that the current level of penalties is wholly unacceptable. The main problem is caused by the confusing usage of tickets.

“They are hoping to bring in a new means of monitoring use which should eliminate the confusion and slash the number of penalty tickets,” he said.

Former town mayor, Sudbury councillor Jack Owen said: “There may be an argument for making the signs bigger so they can be more easily read if people are forgetting to get a ticket; it is easily done especially if you get distracted.

“Last year when I was mayor, I found myself going to the Town Hall to pay a car parking fine.”