Short-term parking charges to be further discussed

Cabinet will look at issues raised following call-in of decision.

Babergh District Council’s Cabinet will further discuss the decision to introduce modest short-term parking charges in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham after the decision was ‘called in’.

The Cabinet previously agreed on 8 April to stop subsidising free parking after it was warned the authority is “on the edge of an economic precipice”. 

Parking is currently free for three hours in Sudbury and Hadleigh, and all day in Lavenham, but with Babergh facing a £6.7million budget gap over the next four years, it can no longer afford to continue subsidising free parking without cutting other essential services. 

Modest new charges were agreed by Cabinet - a £1 charge for short stay parking for the first hour, or £1 for two hours in long stay, which are below neighbouring authorities’ rates, with plans to introduce them before the end of the year.

However, the decision was referred back to yesterday's meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee after being ‘called in’  – an important part of the council’s constitution, providing an extra layer of scrutiny and accountability to decision-making. 

Following a debate, the committee agreed unanimously that Cabinet should look again, with particular focus on a number of areas.

These are to ensure a one-hour free tariff option is fully considered; give further consideration to the local economic impact of the proposed changes; and consider the impact of the short-term charges on those facing poverty in rural areas and vulnerable residents. Council officers will also meet with Great Cornard Parish Council prior to Cabinet meeting, and further consider previous recommendations made by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The matter will be heard at a future cabinet meeting, as soon as necessary additional work has taken place. 

A number of measures had previously been agreed to limit the impact of the introduction of charges.

The full-day charge for parking in Hadleigh and Sudbury was due to reduce from the current £3-a-day to £2.50 – supporting town centre workers, and encouraging visitors from further afield to spend the day exploring the high streets and local attractions.

Officers are also already looking at refund arrangements for users of the council’s leisure centres at Sudbury and Hadleigh so no one is deterred from staying fit and active, and also for customers to Roys in Sudbury.  In addition, officers are exploring exemptions for users of nearby medical centres and mobile screening facilities, and possible means-tested permit schemes being explored for parents using council car parks for the school drop off and pick up.

Babergh District Council is set to introduce short-term parking charges