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Sudbury Market Hill car park closure sparks disagreements





The closure of a car park in a Suffolk town has sparked disagreements.

Last month, Sudbury Town Council agreed to go ahead with its pilot scheme to shut part of Market Hill to traffic between May and September — this will see parking bays at the north end removed to create space for outdoor dining and events.

The scheme was agreed in 2022 and was originally meant to take place the following year before it was delayed to give businesses more preparation time.

Last month, Sudbury Town Council agreed to go ahead with its pilot scheme to shut part of Market Hill to traffic between May and September
Last month, Sudbury Town Council agreed to go ahead with its pilot scheme to shut part of Market Hill to traffic between May and September

However, the decision has sparked controversy, with some thinking the town centre could suffer from having fewer available parking spaces.

Cllr Paul Clover, who disagrees with the scheme, said business owners and other stakeholders in the vicinity of Market Hill had not been properly consulted.

Together with the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, Cllr Clover surveyed 53 businesses that, for the most part, were also against the closure.

Some feedback from businesses included that the extra space wouldn’t be as beneficial as intended, customers who park there would not shop as often, and the closure could impact the accessibility of elderly customers as well as those with mobility issues.

Speaking at last month’s meeting, several residents echoed these concerns, with one saying the experiment would lead to businesses crashing.

Cllr Tim Regester pushed back on Cllr Clover’s survey, saying it had been poorly conducted.

He said: “The questions are leading and not done to any standard of objectivity; it’s a very badly done survey.

“It is a shame, but unsurprising that the Chamber of Commerce cannot consider progressive changes to Sudbury, especially experimental ones like this, as a positive attempt to improve the local economy.

“Instead, focusing on the negatives which revolve all around the convenience of motor vehicle drivers and the perception that only those rich enough or capable of driving a car actually matter in this town.”

A spokesperson for Sudbury Town Council also said members of the public have been surveyed extensively since January 2020, with the county council currently also collecting responses.

Market Hill’s planned closure comes against the backdrop of proposed changes to parking charges within Sudbury, Hadleigh, and Lavenham.

Cllr Clover said this could mean demand for spaces within Market Hill would become paramount, adding to the need to rethink the closures.

If parking charges were introduced as proposed, however, they would not come into effect until after the Market Hill experiment had finished and would only impact if the scheme is taken forward on a rolling basis.

Although Cllr Regester also criticised Babergh’s proposals to remove free parking, he said he is convinced the experiment on Market Hill will increase footfall and retail revenues.

A spokesperson for Babergh District Council added: “The proposals are designed to help existing spaces in our car parks to be used more effectively, with more spaces becoming available for short-stay parking closer to Market Hill for shoppers, and a reduction to the cost of all-day parking in our long stay car parks, to support town centre workers.

“We will continue to work closely with Sudbury Town Council and local businesses, to ensure we can continue to support residents, shoppers, workers and visitors to the town, despite the financial pressures we face.”

They also added proposals to remove free parking are still set to be examined, with the next debate set for Monday during the overview and scrutiny meeting ahead of recommendations going before the cabinet in April.