In a move that should give heart to those who are campaigning against other issues in our town – after SCDC’s initial suggestions to start charging for parking in areas that have traditionally been free – Felixstowe Town Council and local SCDC representatives have successfully lobbied for the plans to be dropped in all but one of the areas in question.
SCDC wanted to install pay-and-display machines at Manor Terrace, Eastward Ho (The Grove) and Garrison Lane car parks. However the council received a number of objections during a short consultation period and have now revised their plans.
The campaign also persuaded Suffolk Coastal council to keep the much-used free half-hour spaces for shoppers at the Highfield and Crescent car parks.
However, there will be charging at Landguard, though the first hour will be free, and prices at most car parks will go up between 10-20% on average.
The aim is to raise extra cash to pay for the cost of taking over yellow lines enforcement from the police. The district council needs to find £178,000 more annually in income towards the £240,000 needed a year for the cost of its new role from April 2019.
While the return of “traffic wardens” will undoubtedly have an initial impact and raise substantial extra income, observers believe motorists will soon learn to park legally and avoid fines, reducing the among coming in each year.
Councillors Mike Deacon and Andy Smith were two that spoke out against the proposals. Mr Deacon told the cabinet he was concerned the previous proposals would affect Felixstowe dramatically and the economy of the resort, for a number of reasons, was fragile. He felt that in supporting tourism and the economy of the town centre and businesses, parking must be seen as a service which attracts, rather than deters, visitors.
Mr Smith spoke against the possibility of parking meters along the seafront and stated this would directly drive people away. He said that car parks that were currently free in the town had been put in place because they were not amenable to charging.
He stressed the need for parking charges that would not destroy all the very successful management of car parks that had evolved over the years to support the economy of town centres and tourism.
As a footnote – FelixstoweSpy has learned that Garrison Lane car park has to remain free anyway due to the possibility of unexploded WW2 ordinance under the surface of the car park. If SCDC started charging they would be liable if an incident occurred.