Anger voiced at £500 parking permit price hike
- Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN
Residents living in the heart of a market town are facing a £500 price hike to park in a nearby car park.
Dozens of residents in Bungay gathered at Wharton Street car park, where nearby residents paid £150 for an annual parking permit last year.
Yet following a spate of changes to tariffs across East Suffolk, those living and working in Bungay will now be asked to pay £650 to renew their permits.
Robby Lewry, of Lower Olland Street, fears many will be unable to afford the rise.
The 63-year-old said: “Living in the centre of town, we cannot have garages or driveways. Instead, we have been offered a resident’s parking permit and last year it cost £150, which I am quite happy to admit is extremely good value.
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“Earlier this year when my permit was about to expire, I rang the council in July to ask about getting a replacement, but I was told they weren’t doing that because of coronavirus and the permits would still be legitimate until the system was up and running again.
“Each month I have rang and was told they hadn’t got round to sorting it, but last time I was told charges were going to change and it would now be £650 per year.
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“It’s fair enough to have an increase but this seems a bit extravagant for people who have nowhere else to park.
“A lot of neighbours are horrified and we are worried about whatever next.
“Some people can’t afford it and it will result in people parking on the road, causing more problems.”
Last month, East Suffolk Council announced plans to scrap “inconsistent” charges across the district, which varied following the merger of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal councils in 2019.
The council said more than 70pc of the prices would be slashed or frozen, as well as offering a free 30 minutes in selected locations.
The scheme was initially introduced in Bungay, before a district-wide roll-out followed.
Now, Norman Brooks, cabinet member for transport, said: “While we understand people in some locations may be disappointed by price rises for parking, we are entirely clear that our new tariffs are fair and reasonable for car users throughout the whole district and have been brought in with clear consideration for the three million occasions our car parks are used each year.
“We have made pricing simpler, removed a range of hugely different tariff structures and achieved this in a ‘cost-neutral’ way which will not raise any additional money for the council but will ensure fairness for all.
“The council is not responsible for the allocation of car parking spaces for individual households.
“However, we do provide a range of ticket options so drivers may choose for themselves the most appropriate one for their needs, whether this is daily, monthly, or annually.
“Additionally, we have introduced a range of schemes, such as free half-hour parking, expressly designed to increase the number of visits to our towns and villages and support our local businesses who desperately need a boost at this difficult time.
“Season ticket pricing has previously varied in cost by hundreds of pounds depending on the town or even specific car park used and the new prices ensure drivers will benefit from the same pricing structure regardless of their location.
“As a council seeking to provide the best possible services and value for money for all residents, businesses and communities, it is entirely fair that people should pay the going rate to secure somewhere to park for an entire year.
“£650 works out at just under £1.80 a day, which is less than half the amount a casual user would pay for a full day.
“This increase simply reflects the fact that a year’s permit for £150 is too low and paying 40p per day while other users pay far more would be both unfair and an unreasonable drain on council resources.
“We know that price rises are never welcomed, however, we must be entirely clear that our approach to car park charges is driven by fairness and clarity.
“Some car park users have benefited from prices which cannot continue to be justified, are unfair on other car users and genuinely impact on our ability to deliver services properly.
“These new charges redress that balance, with every user in mind and not just a few.”
The council spokesperson also denied a four-hour maximum stay was being introduced at Wharton Street car park.