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Free parking could save our town centres this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 18:56 28 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:56 28 October 2018

Free parking is set to be offered in parts of east Suffolk   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Free parking is set to be offered in parts of east Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Shoppers have called for a free parking scheme being introduced in east Suffolk this Christmas to be extended to further encourage families to shop local and support their market towns.

Woodbridge Mammoth Christmas Street FairWoodbridge Mammoth Christmas Street Fair

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District councils are set to offer four hours of free parking in the run up to Christmas.

Town and parish councils will be able to offer up to two hours a time during major Christmas events to help draw in even greater crowds.

Carol Poulter and Graham Catchpole from Suffolk Coastal and Waveney Cabinets said in a joint statement: “Obviously, in the build up to Christmas, there is a larger variety of events being held over a longer period of time.

“However, we would still like to do our bit in supporting the community events and are getting into the festive spirit by offering periods of free parking during the weeks leading up to Christmas.”

Emma Hibbert of Adnams and Tony Goldson, Cabinet member for Health at Suffolk County Council and Cllr Graham Catchpole at the launch of the Womens Tour of Britain in Beccles.Emma Hibbert of Adnams and Tony Goldson, Cabinet member for Health at Suffolk County Council and Cllr Graham Catchpole at the launch of the Womens Tour of Britain in Beccles.

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news from the councils.

Jules Shorrock, chairman of Suffolk Chamber in Lowestoft & Waveney said: “Local businesses will appreciate both the motivation behind the free parking blocks and the flexibility in which they can be implemented by local councils. Suffolk Chamber applauds the two east Suffolk councils for this initiative.”

In our online poll 89% of voters said that free parking would encourage them to shop locally this Christmas, rather than travelling further afield to the likes of Chelmsford, Cambridge or London.

Samuel Treadaway said: “It works with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, free weekend parking over December, really encouraging to go to the local events when you don’t have be restricted by expensive parking fees.”

Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for the green environment Carol PoulterSuffolk Coastal cabinet member for the green environment Carol Poulter

Others hoped the idea would spread to other parts of the county.

Trevor Garwood said: “I can’t see why they can’t do free parking all day Wednesday and all day Saturday it would bring loads of people into Bury St Edmunds - surely it makes economical sense as well.”

Michael Brand added: “Send this to Newmarket Town Council asap.”

However, the time limit may put others off. Teresa Knights said: “Two hours is not enough. Surely that will cause traffic problems if everyone descends on the town in those two hours?”

And some fear this could put added pressure on parking facilities.

Sally Ann Canham said: “Woodbridge needs more parking spaces during the year, it’s a nightmare to park. I’m happy to pay for parking.”

Town and parish councils can now decide when they will use the free parking time.

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