Trader accuses council over parking stats

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press,, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A Sudbury shopkeeper claims the public have been misled over financial figures sent to the Government about car parking.

David Holland, from Curtain Craft in King Street, claims reported financial losses by Babergh District Council over the running of car parks in Sudbury and Hadleigh are wrong.

It follows a national survey by the RAC which revealed Babergh – which runs 26 car and lorry parks – ran them at a loss of £116,000 during the 2012-13 financial year.

But council bosses have denied the figures are incorrect, and says the shopkeeper has “misinterpreted” statistics given to him under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Holland claims costs that are not directly related to car parking have been included. He said: ”One of these non-parking related costs is an allocation of over £80,000 for running the council generally. This has the effect of artificially increasing reported costs and thereby generating the reported loss for car parking.

“The smoke and mirrors has to stop. I believe fairness and integrity should underpin all of the district council’s actions.”

But a spokeswoman from Babergh said: “The figures are taken from information that we provide to central Government.

“Unfortunately, Mr Holland hasn’t understood the figures correctly and attempts to try to explain them to him clearly haven’t worked.

“As a result, Mr Holland has seriously misinterpreted the figures and has drawn incorrect conclusions.

“We have never supplied incorrect figures to the Government, and at no point has there been any manipulation of figures to make our statistics appear worse.”

Sudbury councillor Tony Platt, who chairs the town’s car parking group which meets with Babergh District Council to co-ordinate car parking in the town, said he did not see the value of a debate over the reported figures.

“Continually dealing with issues Mr Holland keeps raising is detracting us all from what we are all trying to do, which is to consider and manage car parking as a key element in the current and future economic viability and sustainability of the town,” he said.

“We are doing our utmost to create a parking system that will best meet the needs of Sudbury and the district now and in the future.”

But Mr Holland said he wanted sound financial data “to be the foundation on which the right car parking solution for Sudbury can be found”.

Chris Storey, vice-chairman of Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are not interested in the figures; we are more interested in what the public is being charged.”