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Home > Environment > Parking > Babergh Car & Lorry Parks > Parking proposals 2021 FAQs

Parking proposals 2021 FAQs

Why are we proposing to make changes to our parking provision?

We need to better balance traffic management. This is alongside our environmental ambitions, economy and use of space.

We can create availability in short stay car parks, by ensuring all visitors are using the right spaces in the right places.

We can encourage more trips into our town centres by making sure people park in the right space for their stay.

Our proposals are also a key part of implementing the town centre visions. We want to make them vibrant and sustainable – through sufficient and attractive parking. This will lead to positive first and last impressions of our towns. By being able to invest in better signage and access improvements, we can create the towns we need for the future.

We will also invest in and encourage more sustainable travel options and schemes in our towns. These include cycling and electric vehicle charging.

Any income from parking tariffs would directly support:

  • Car park improvements – including upgrading our machines (which are nearing end of life) to include a card payment option
  • Better signage and wayfinding – supporting visitors to find their way and highlighting key areas around our towns to improve the high street experience
  • Sustainable travel projects – things such as cycling initiatives and bicycle parking
  • Ongoing maintenance

Are you getting rid of subsidised parking (known as free parking)?

No – our subsidised parking is here to stay, the changes agreed by cabinet retain an hour's free parking.

Existing free on-street parking across our districts will also still be available.

What process did the plans follow?

Babergh councillors said that they were prepared to listen to feedback. The original date for a decision was also deferred to allow further debate by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Full Council.

At their meeting on 18 January, Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended that cabinet increase the amount of free parking to an hour. They also recommended delaying the implementation date until at least September 2021.

Read their full recommendations and watch their meeting (livestreamed) on our website

A free parking petition was also debated at Babergh’s Full Council on 19 January. You can read the agenda and watch the meeting (livestreamed) on our website

New recommendations, to further delay the implementation date and extend the free parking period, were then considered and agreed by cabinet at their meeting on 4 February.

Find the agenda papers and live stream link for the cabinet meeting on our website

But isn’t it free?

No. It is only called ‘free parking’ because you don’t pay at the point of use. With subsidised parking, everyone pays for it collectively instead (through council tax). This is regardless of whether they are a motorist or not, or whether they use our car parks twice a year or every day.

How much does subsidised parking cost?

This year (20/21) the total cost of running our car parks is expected to be £444k. This includes the annual cost of subsidising our car parks (£185k).

What did the council's independent parking study show in our towns ?

We found that different parking issues were affecting each of our towns differently.

In Sudbury

Car park users are currently using our short stay car parks for long stays (such as commuters). This means others, who need short stay parking and struggle to find a space, are:

  • idling (engine running while stationary) waiting for a space
  • driving around the town to try and find a space

Both of these behaviours cause additional congestion and air pollution. These are issues we are keen to address in our plans to fight climate change.

We want to shift behaviour so people are using the right space in the right place. This means we can free up more short stay spaces for those needing to visit the town centre. We hope it also increases our space turnover (how quickly someone else is able to use a space).

Car park spaces, when used efficiently, will allow more visitors in to the town more regularly. This provides support to our local businesses and venues.

In Hadleigh

Long stay uses of our car parks are affecting visitors looking for short term parking (and vice versa).

By creating more dedicated times for different activities, we can encourage better use of space. This will also make it easier for motorists to find the right space in the right place.

In Lavenham

In Lavenham, we are seeing similar patterns to Hadleigh. However, we also need to factor in additional leisure and tourism pressures on this location. These pressures emerge over the summer months, which weren’t covered in the February 2020 study.

Are you introducing charges?

Yes. Our cabinet have agreed small tariffs that aim to change the behaviours we currently see in our car parks. They will also ensure the best use of the space available. We’ve included the agreed rates below. You can read the full report considered by cabinet on our website

Table 2: Illustration of different options for controls
LocationCar parksTypeOption 2 - agreed on 4 Feb 2021
Sudbury North Street, Girling Street Shoppers short stay, max 3 hrs 1 hour free, 2 hours £1.00, 3 hours £2.00
Great Eastern Road Short stay 1 hour free, 2 hours £1.00, 3 hours £2.00, All day £4.00
Station Road, Stour Street Short and long stay 1 hour free, 2 hours £1.00, 3 hours £2.00, All day £4.00
The Station Long stay 2 hours £1.00, 4 hours £2.00, 6 hours £3.00, All day £4.00
Mill Lane Change to be available for residents only
Hadleigh Magdalen Road Long stay All day £4.00
Stonehouse Road & Magdalen Road (long) Short and long stay 1 hour free, 3 hours £1.00, All day £4.00, Long stay area for Magdalen Road
Magdalen Road (short stay area), High Street, Toppesfield Hall Short stay 1 hour free, 3 hours £1.00, Magdalen Road is split into long and short stay – long stay is not allowed in the front section of the car park
Railway Walk Short stay, max 3 hrs Changed to maximum stay for local use, 3 hours free
Chelmondiston, Pin Mill Local parking Changed to 50p per hour
Lavenham car parks All car parks No changes to existing. To research further in future as part of Strategy work
All other car parks All car parks No changes to existing including any not shown above

To put this in context with similar size towns, we’ve included comparable tariffs from elsewhere in the UK:

Table 1: Benchmarking National Comparative charging in similar towns
Charges up toNantwich, CheshireBridport, DorsetOakham, RutlandHelmsley, Ryedale
20 mins £0.70 £0.20 £1.00 £1.60
1 hour £0.40
2 hours £1.10 £0.80 £2.50 £2.50
3 hours £2.20 £1.70 £3.00
4 hours £4.00 £4.30 £5.00
5 hours £2.70 £8.00
6 hours+ N/A £12.00
Blue Badge Holders Free Charges as above Free Charges + extra time

Why are there different changes for different towns/areas?

We recognise that no two places in Babergh are the same. The needs and patterns of behaviour in our car parks are different, depending on location and other factors.

Do these changes make the cost of parking more fair?

Yes. Subsidised parking (known as free parking) isn’t really free. It is paid for collectively, through things like council tax. All residents pay for it (wherever they live in the district), whether they’re a motorist or not.

At the moment, everyone ‘pays’ the same whether they use our subsidised parking regularly, or not at all.

Are the tariffs designed to create profit for the council?

No. The council’s role is not to create profit. Where we generate any income, we pay it back into services to support communities, residents and businesses.

This allows us to support things such as the upgrades at Kingfisher Leisure Centre and Hadleigh Pool, grants for St Peters and more. These are things we know our community needs and wants to see happen.

Any income from parking tariffs would directly support:

  • Car park improvements – including upgrading our machines (which are nearing end of life) to include a card payment option
  • Better signage and wayfinding – supporting visitors to find their way and highlighting key areas around our towns to improve the high street experience
  • Sustainable travel projects – things such as cycling initiatives and bicycle parking etc.
  • Ongoing maintenance

Why now, especially given everything that has happened in 2020?

This work is an important step in future-proofing our parking provision in Babergh. It will aid our COVID-19 recovery over the coming months and years.

It is also vital in supporting our wider vision for our towns. You can think of the visions like a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces need to align in order for the full picture to appear.

If we don’t do this now, we cannot put in place necessary improvements over the coming year. We also would not have been able to debate the plans openly during our 2021/22 public budget meetings.

This would affect our town visioning work and projects, as well as delay necessary work.

When will the changes come into effect?

We’ve deliberately delayed the introduction of charges to reduce any immediate impacts caused by COVID-19.

The changes won’t come into place straight away. They will come into effect from October 2021 at the earliest.

Do the charges apply to Market Hill in Sudbury?

No. The parking provision on Market Hill isn’t one of the car parks we own or manage. We do not have the authority to introduce those sorts of changes, there even if this was deemed to be a good idea.

However, Market Hill has recently been the subject of public consultation on new proposals, including pedestrianisation.

Find out more about Sudbury Vision

How does this support businesses?

By freeing up quick turnover spaces for shoppers and visitors in our short stay car parks, we create availability in short stay car parks. This encourages more trips to our town centres, by ensuring people park in the right space for their stay.

This opens up opportunities for increasing the number of town centre visitors. It will change the way people interact with our towns and traders - hopefully, it will encourage more residents to shop local.

Research implies that availability of parking, rather than charging, tends to impact town centre vitality*.

The availability of spaces and better management of our car parks is exactly what we want to improve. This is in addition to encouraging more sustainable travel options.

*Source: Association of Town & City Management - In-Town Parking, What Works?

What about residential parking?

The changes include introducing a wider residential permit scheme, which would allow our car parks to be used by residents with a valid permit.

Mill Lane car park in Sudbury will also be reconfigured and given over for the use of residents only, and in Hadleigh opportunities around the Benton Street area will be explored in future.

What if I want to park in the closest car park to town?

All our car parks are close to our town centres (at most a few minutes’ walk), so you will never be far from where you need to get to.

By making short stay spaces more available through these changes, those wanting to pop into town should be able to park closer to town.

And what about those less mobile?

Existing free on-street parking across our districts will still be available.

Blue badge holders will continue to be able to park in our car parks for free. They are also able to park on double yellows - there’s more information about Blue Badges on the Government’s website.

We will continue to work with Suffolk County Council, the highways authority, to prioritise blue badge parking for elderly/mobility impaired in the main amenity and services areas (e.g. near banks).