Car parking plans agreed by councillors

Much-criticised plans to cut free parking across the Babergh area have been given the go-ahead.

But the changes are not due to come on stream until later this year, probably by the beginning of October.

Babergh District Council’s cabinet gave the go ahead to changes at its meeting this morning (Thursday, February 4) when it agreed to reduce free parking at most car parks from three hours down to one hour.

It had originally proposed 30 minutes free with a start day of July but agreed to the revised proposals put forward by the council’s scrutiny committee last month.

Petitions with 2,000 names had been submitted to the council opposing he plans which also took on board representations by Hadleigh and Sudbury Town Councils, in pushing back the proposed changes from July to October at the earliest, and increasing free parking time from the proposed 30 minutes to an hour.

The changes follow an independent parking study which found current parking arrangements were outdated and not making best use of available space. 

The study also highlighted ways behaviours could shift, to support the council’s, and county’s, environmental ambitions and improve traffic management in the district.

Original proposals due to be considered by cabinet were deferred to allow further debate by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Full Council.

As part of the debate, Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended that cabinet increase the amount of subsidised parking to an hour. They also recommended delaying the implementation date until at least September 2021.

This recommendation has been mirrored in the Cabinet’s decision, meaning an hour’s subsidised parking will remain in Hadleigh and Sudbury to support local business. Small tariffs will also be introduced for longer periods, with all changes coming into effect from October this year at the earliest to allow flexibility in response the ongoing pandemic.

Each car park was looked at individually so that local parking would best balance supply and demand. More in-depth parking reviews to look at capacity and other needs for the next five to 10 years will commence in Summer this year.

Elisabeth Malvisi, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We said we were prepared to listen which is why we delayed this decision to allow further debate. However, these plans are still a very careful balancing act, between the immediate needs of Sudbury and Hadleigh and those of the district as a whole. We must ensure we have the means to carry out necessary public realm improvements as part of our long term Covid-19 recovery. While also making best use of space, supporting our climate ambitions and strong visitor economy.

 “By managing our parking stock better, we can make sure people can find the right space, in the right place. We can also bring our car parks up to 21st century standard to support our wider vision work – leading to positive first and last impressions of our towns. But, to do this we need to ensure our parking provision is self-sustaining.”

Income raised from the increases will contribute towards: 

·                     machine upgrades to include a contactless payment option – £70k; 

·                     updating and improving cycle parking, with provision for EVs, and maintenance, wayfinding, signage, and markings – £105k; 

·                     covering general annual operational costs – £210k. 

The changes also include more opportunities for residential parking including;

  • resident-only car park spaces;
  • a wider permit scheme for use of public car parks’
  • working with Suffolk County Council to introduce more provision of on-street parking.

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