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High Court asked to look at Newmarket's car park charges rise




A council could be forced to defend its increase in car parking charges in court after a Newmarket town councillor fired the starting gun on a judicial review.

Cllr Andrew Appleby has applied for the review to be launched in response to West Suffolk Council’s decision to hike charges at car parks across the district and to increase the time period in which drivers are expected to pay.

If the court grants the judicial review, which is a way of challenging the decisions and acts of a public body because it has not acted lawfully, the district will be forced to defend the changes to parking fees and rules atthe six car parks it owns in Newmarket.

Car Parking, Market Square, Newmarket (35927025)
Car Parking, Market Square, Newmarket (35927025)

In his claim filed at the High Court, Cllr Appleby said West Suffolk Council had failed to properly consult on the proposed changes before taking its decision.

Fellow town councillors Kevin Yarrow, John Borda, and Chris O’Neill have backed his action and said they were not informed or consulted.

The Guineas car park in Newmarket (35927032)
The Guineas car park in Newmarket (35927032)

Last year the district launched a car parking review group, led by then independent Cllr David Nettleton, to evaluate car parks across the district.

But when it gave its findings in January, a week before the district by-election in Newmarket and Neighbourhood Plan referendum, the committee which was chaired by now Conservative Cllr Nettleton said the ‘group decided not to provide a view on parking options in respect of Newmarket’.

The next month, cabinet approved parking changes in Newmarket, making it the only town not to have the changes consulted on or discussed in public.

It meant fees, if they hadn’t been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, would have to be paid from 8am and up until 6pm with charges increasing at the town’s car parks by, in some cases, double.

In his claim, Cllr Appleby said there were ‘inadequate consultations on the proposals or recommendations on which the cabinet relied in making its decision’.

He added that because of changes in Newmarket only being made public a week before they were considered it was ‘impossible for any consultation this recommendation’.

A district council spokesperson said: “A claim for a judicial review was served on the council and we are currently looking at this. Therefore, it is too early, especially as this is a legal claim, for us to comment further on it.”