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Opposition group fears free parking could be lost from Sudbury and other Suffolk towns, if local councils take control of enforcement

By Jason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter

View of Market Hill in Sudbury.PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (5326245)
View of Market Hill in Sudbury.PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (5326245)

Fears have been raised that free parking could be lost in Suffolk’s towns, if responsibility for enforcing parking is transferred from the police to local councils.

Plans had been under way for parking across Suffolk to be enforced by the county’s district and borough councils, instead of the police, from April 2019.

But delays within the Department for Transport mean the timetable for its implementation can no longer be met, and Suffolk Police is facing at least another 12 months of enforcing parking restrictions.

Money collected by police from parking enforcement is sent directly to central government, but local authorities can keep the cash and spend it at a local level.

Suffolk County Council’s Labour group is warning that giving councils control over parking could mean areas which currently enjoy free parking could face charges in the future.

Jack Owen, a town and county councillor for Sudbury and Suffolk Labour’s spokesman for roads and highways, said: “I have long fought for free parking in our market towns and villages, as a way of ensuring our rural towns have a viable future.

“We know that free parking means towns, such as Sudbury, have a way of pulling people in.

“Given the continuing cuts to public transport, free parking is the only way to guarantee the survival of our rural towns. I issue a warning that this action is likely to lead to parking charges across Suffolk.

“There is a real risk that the revenue expected from fines would only be short term, and this could result in an attack on free off-road parking.”

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet agreed to adopt a parking management strategy, which represents a part of the formal process of transferring parking enforcement from police to councils.

It is not yet clear when the process of the changeover will begin with the Department for Transport.

Conservative cabinet member for highways, Mary Evans, said: “We all recognise that Suffolk Constabulary is hard pressed and hardly ever has the resources to respond to reports of bad parking.

“We want to see an improvement and this strategy reasserts the commitment to improvement and secure civil parking enforcement in our county.”


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