An e-petition signed by 1,200 protestors, has halted plans to discuss new car parking charges across the Babergh area.
The district council’s cabinet was due to meet today (Thursday, January 7) but has now deferred their monthly meeting to allow scrutiny into their plans with a further debates now scheduled for next month.
The total cost of running Babergh’s car parks is expected to be more than £440,000 for the next financial year (2021/22).
The proposals, based on the findings of an independent parking study, included retaining an element of free parking in both Hadleigh and Sudbury in order to support local business, but would see the current three hours’ free parking reduced, with a small tariff introduced for longer periods.
Income raised from the plans, if approved, were due to go towards reducing the subsidy, sustainable travel schemes, updating and improving cycle parking, electric vehicle charging points, signage and car park upgrades – supporting the towns’ wider visions and contributing to their post-Covid recovery.
However, councillors are now expected to defer any decision to next month’s cabinet meeting on February 4 instead. This will allow the issue to be reviewed by Overview and Scrutiny Committee on January 18 as well as being fully debated at Babergh’s next full council meeting on January 19 – with all meetings publicly livestreamed.
Babergh District Council leader John Ward said: “We have been fortunate to have been in a position to subsidise three hours’ free parking for as long as we have, but the time has now come for some difficult decisions. We understand the strength of feeling – particularly from local businesses who are battling the impact of the pandemic – and we have pledged throughout to do everything possible to retain some element of free parking. The eventual outcome, however, must meet the needs of taxpayers and residents as well as visitors and business.
“Delaying until February allows the issue to be discussed by Overview and Scrutiny committee, and full debate by all councillors at our next council meeting, to ensure that this is a fully transparent decision when it finally comes back to cabinet.”