Tories set to end free parking in Suffolk

Labour Spokesperson for Roads, Highways and Rural Affairs, Cllr Jack Owen, has warned of the increased likelihood of the ending of free parking across Suffolk’s towns and villages as civil parking enforcement powers comes closer to being reality.

Suffolk County Council Tory Cabinet will today vote on a Parking Management Strategy in order to fulfil Department of Transport regulations ahead of any decision to give local councils in Suffolk civil enforcement powers. Civil enforcement powers mean local councils can issue parking fines and keep the revenue.

Currently parking fines, outside of Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, can only be issued by the police and rightly they are unwilling to give over their limited resources to enforcing parking regulations.

Many councils see the opportunity to generate more income as a good thing, but there is little evidence that parking fines raise enough income to cover the costs of the Parking Enforcement Officers, never mind generate surplus income to be used to prop up public services.

If district councils do decide to employ Parking Enforcement Officers and people in the town improve their parking the council will have to generate income from parking in other ways and Cllr Owen is concerned that this will include ending free parking in Suffolk’s towns and villages.

Cllr Owen said; “I have long fought for free parking in our market towns and villages as a way of ensuring our rural towns have a viable future. We know that free parking means towns, such as the one I represent, Sudbury, have a way of pulling people in. Given the continuing cuts to public transport free parking is the only way to guarantee the survival of our rural towns and I issue a warning that this action is likely to lead to parking charges across Suffolk. There is a real risk that the revenue expected from fines would only be short term and this could result in an attack on free off-road parking.

“I am completely shocked that, in the run up to the local elections in May next year, Tory councillors will be supporting a campaign that could be the death knell for free parking in Suffolk. Remember vote Tory, get parking charges.”

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