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Blueprint for parking to be drawn up for two Suffolk districts

Work has begun on a plan for parking in two Suffolk districts over the next five-to-ten years – with pavement parking, Park & Ride, hospital car parks and car park maintenance all among the areas it will cover.

Divisive changes to reducing free parking in Babergh planned for later this year coupled with the change of parking enforcement powers from police to local authorities meant Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils felt a five-to-ten year strategy is needed.

Project bosses say it will look at ensuring the right types of car park are in place across the two districts in both towns and rural villages, and link up with Suffolk County Council’s highways team which has responsibility for on-street parking arrangements.

cars on the outside in the parking lot (48781224)
cars on the outside in the parking lot (48781224)

At Monday’s joint scrutiny committee meeting, councillors requested that the scope of the plan incorporates parking permit schemes, pavement parking, Park & Ride, hospital parking, car pooling, electric charging points, wheelchair accessibility and town centre provision among others.

Cassandra Clements, assistant director for the environment and commercial partnerships at the two councils, said: “The joint parking strategy is to look at what is going to happen within our districts within the next five-to-ten years; the growth in terms of residents, in terms of businesses in terms of tourism; and it’s very much what we anticipate the need of the districts being.

“We would like it to cover both on-street and off-street. We know we don’t have direct responsibility around on-street – that is the highway authority within Suffolk County Council – however we know our districts best and I would like us to work in much closer partnership with Suffolk County Council in terms of what happens to on-street parking.”

The council is looking to hire consultants to carry out work, expected to start in August, with the aim to have a plan ready for sign-off next summer. That is likely to cost around £35,000, the meeting heard.

The work will also include consultation and discussions with organisations such as disability forums, emergency services, parish and town councils, car park owners and vision groups.

It will also include work with West Suffolk and Ipswich Borough councils, which carry out parking enforcement activities on behalf of Babergh and Mid Suffolk.

Stow Thorney Conservative councillor Dave Muller said he wanted it to incorporate Government plans to curb pavement parking, adding: “I know from speaking to residents this is a major, major issue in Stowmarket and elsewhere, and I think it is really, realy important we consider this as well.”

Liberal Democrat for Combs Ford, Keith Scarff, said a long-term solution for residential permit parking must also be addressed within it – and may require investment within the next two years.

He said: “The clamour for the residential permit parking scheme is immense – it’s not going to go away, and when we launch this consultation with parish and town councils, residents, etc, you are going to get quite a bit of comeback on that.”

Unanimous approval was given by the scrutiny committee for the scope of the strategy work, and is set to go before both councils’ cabinets on Monday.

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