Friday, October 05, 2012

Car parking consultation in Mid Suffolk: any thoughts?

I've received a letter, via our Parish Clerk, and in case anyone in Mid Suffolk reads this...

Dear Stakeholder,

Review of Car Parking

I am writing to you for your views on car parking. Mid Suffolk District Council last undertook a major review of car parking in 2009/10 with new charges introduced in April 2011. In the report to the Council’s Executive Committee in January 2010 it was recommended and approved that car parking charges should be reviewed at least every other year. It was also agreed with other key stakeholders that a more general review of car parking would be undertaken in the summer of 2012.

By way of brief background, Mid Suffolk District Council is responsible for six pay and display car parks in Stowmarket; (short term) the Meadow Centre, Milton Road, (long term) Iliffe Way, Ipswich Street, Bury Street and Union Street. The Council also manages a number of other car parks which are not pay and display in Needham Market, Eye, Debenham and Woolpit. The Council is responsible for setting the car parking charges, where appropriate, through the Off-Street Parking Places Order made under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, section 35. The income from car park charges contributes to the management and maintenance of the car parks as well as making a significant contribution to support the provision of other related services. A detail of the current charging schedule is attached to this letter.

It is important to be clear on the scope and context of any review to ensure that the consultation is meaningful and deliverable. The Council’s political administration has outlined the scope and the broad basis of the review below which will hopefully provide some clear guidance. However, the Council does not want to restrict any views and welcomes comments on any aspect of car parking. The questions set out below are therefore not exhaustive but hopefully provide some guidance.

Financial – Although the Council’s financial projections are extremely challenging, in consideration of the current financial position and the desire of the Council to support the local economy, it is not the intention of the Council to consider increasing charges. The Council, where practical and possible, would consider any changes that would have a neutral financial impact on the overall car parking budget.

Are the current charging periods for short and long term parking appropriate? A change has already been approved for the Milton Road car park to bring the waiting periods in line with the other short term car parks i.e. 3 hours maximum waiting times with charging periods of 0 to 1 ½ hours and 1 ½ to 3 hours. This was implemented from 24 September 2012.

Is there a need to consider any other changes to waiting or charging periods?

The Council has reiterated its previous policy of not considering Sunday charging. Any views?

The Council does not wish to consider any form of charging for Blue Badge holders. Any views?

Any other views on charging that could be considered that could have a neutral financial impact?

Car Park Designation – Is the current designation of short term and long term parking appropriate? The car parks in Milton Road and the Meadow Centre are designated short stay car parks

Car Park Capacity – Is there sufficient car park capacity in Stowmarket? Any views?

Car Park Management – Are there other alternative forms of management that could be considered that would not significantly impact upon the Council’s overall car park budget?

There have been views expressed that charging should be considered in other towns and parishes across Mid Suffolk. The Council’s view remains that this is uneconomic and unviable, what are the views of others?

I hope that the above gives some guidance on the scope of the review and whilst I do not want to restrict any views being received or considered, it is important to set out some boundaries. Could you please provide your comments by 31st October 2012 either in writing or by e-mail to:

Chris Fry
131 High Street
Needham Market

Or telephone: 01449 724805

Your comments will be reported to the Environment Policy Panel in November and onto the Executive Committee in December.

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