Parking tariffs in Babergh

Babergh District Council is proposing to vary parking charges in Sudbury, Hadleigh, Lavenham and Chelmondiston.

Subsidising the current three-hour free parking cost the Council approximately £425K this year, and that is set to rise further. The Council faces significant budget pressures in the next financial year and over the medium term and can no longer afford the subsidy if it is to continue delivering other essential services to residents and communities.

Our proposal is to introduce modest, revised tariffs in council-run car parks which are as low as possible compared to other authorities, so we can continue to attract visitors, ensure shoppers and workers have access to the right spaces in the right places, and increase space turnover.

This webpage outlines the background to the proposal, details of an engagement exercise we are carrying out, and answers to some frequently asked questions. Further background about the proposals can also be found in a media release issued on 15 December 2023.

How much will you charge to park?

We already charge to park at Pin Mill Car Park in Chelmondiston, and for over three hours in Hadleigh and Sudbury. We are conducting extensive research throughout East Anglia to ascertain the average cost to park in towns and villages of a similar size to those in Babergh.   We are committed to ensuring that the new charges that would be introduced to our car parks would be in line with other towns and villages of similar size in East Anglia.

How will you discourage shoppers from choosing to shop in larger towns in the area, such as Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, or Colchester?

We are committed to keeping the cost of parking in our car parks lower than those charged in larger towns so that our towns and villages remain an attractive destination.

What solutions are available to prevent motorists from using other free car parks instead of Council-owned car parks, such as health centres, businesses and Residents Only car parks?

There are several solutions available to the operators of free car parks that are close to the Council’s car parks.  These include:

  • Incorporating the car park into the Council’s ‘Off Street Parking Places Order’ so that we can enforce the car park on the operator’s behalf.  Permits could be issued to authorised users.
  • Car park operators can choose to enlist the service of a private enforcement service.  These private services will often provide a fee-free service, using parking ticket income to cover their costs.

What will the Council do to stop motorists from parking on-street to avoid paying to use a car park?

We will work with Suffolk County Council to ensure that the on-street parking is relevant and appropriate for the needs of residents.  We are committed to improving the facilities within our car parks to make them the preferred destination for motorists, by making them a safe, convenient, and pleasant place to park.

Will the introduction of car park charges affect on-street enforcement?

Chargeable parking is easier to enforce than free parking.  With competitive parking rates in operation, we will be able to encourage a greater frequency of Civil Enforcement Officer visits to our car parks.  This increased officer presence makes our car parks a safer place to park with increased patrols and means that the surrounding streets will also be more regularly patrolled which is currently a common complaint.

Will charging to park discourage visitors to our town centre?

There is little evidence to suggest that charging a competitive fee to park will prevent motorists from visiting a town or village.  Babergh is in a minority of districts where parking is free for up to three hours.

Will tourists be discouraged from visiting our town or village if they must pay for parking?

In general, tourists are fully prepared to pay to park when visiting an area of interest.  We are committed to ensuring that the fees charged in our car parks are competitive and may still be below what tourists would normally expect to pay when visiting a place of interest.

What do other towns in the region charge for parking?

The average cost of parking in towns with a population of around 20,000 people East Anglia is £1 per hour. Short stay car parking is payable in towns such as Stowmarket, Newmarket, Felixstowe, Haverhill, and Woodbridge.  We will ensure that the cost of parking in Babergh is competitive with these destinations.   Full tariff information for other council’s car parks in the region are available their websites:

Will Blue Badge holders have to pay to park?

Blue Badge holders will continue to be entitled to park up to three hours for free.

Will there be any discounts available for town centre employees and residents?

We already offer car park season tickets which are available to anyone who regularly uses our car parks.  Season tickets are currently available for three months or 12 months and offer a considerable discount when compared to paying daily.  Season tickets are also convenient as the motorist doesn’t have the inconvenience of having to pay to park each day.  Season tickets are now fully digital and can be managed online.

Who are you currently engaging with about the changes?

In January, Babergh’s Cabinet agreed to carry out an engagement exercise with town and parish councils and other recognised groups to find the best solutions for local communities. We have opened a survey aimed specifically at town and parish councillors as representatives of their local communities. It can also be completed by clerks and other recognised groups.  It will build on previous feedback captured from residents and other stakeholders during our Parking Strategy consultation in 2022.

What will you do with the feedback?

The deadline for responses to the survey is Sunday 3 March 2024 and we will publish the results of this engagement on our website.  The feedback will be reflected in proposals to be examined by our Overview and Scrutiny Committee before going to Cabinet for a final decision.

What are you asking in the survey?

These are the questions people are invited to answer:

Parking tariffs

The Council is proposing to vary the tariffs in our car parks to help tackle the financial deficit that we are facing to lessen the cuts or savings we will have to make to other services.  At present, the free parking that is provided in our car parks in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham is subsidised by all council tax payers in the district.   We are committed to ensuring that the charges that would be introduced would remain as low as possible and in line with towns and villages of similar sizes across the East Anglia region.

What comments would you like to make regarding this proposal?

Car parking provision

The Council published its Parking Strategy in 2022, which outlines both on-street and off-street parking provision for the next 20 years. You can access more information about our Parking Strategy on our website. The Strategy looks at the improvement and maintenance of our parking provision to ensure that we have the right level of parking provision in the right places.

Do you have any comments on our current car park provision and facilities?

On-Street parking

In 2020, Civil Parking Enforcement was introduced to the Babergh District, with Ipswich Borough Council and West Suffolk Council sharing the on-street parking enforcement duties. This has had a positive effect in many areas. We understand that varying the tariffs in our car parks could impact on-street parking, but it could also mean that we could encourage more enforcement where required.

What comments would you like to make regarding on-street parking and parking enforcement?  

Sustainable Transport

The Parking Strategy identified that many of our car parks are already approaching capacity and the demand on parking spaces will only increase without better access to sustainable transport solutions.  This includes improving public transport, cycling, and walking facilities.

What comments or suggestions would you like to make regarding sustainable transport, and what improvements would encourage and enable travel without the need for parking (therefore helping to manage the demand on our car parks)?