Southwold parking and traffic review planned in a bid to ease chaos
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012
A 'root and branch' review of traffic and parking is being planned for Southwold in a bid to resolve problems caused by the increasing number of vehicles entering the town.
Southwold Town councillors have agreed to investigate the cost of hiring a professional consultant to carry out the review and its traffic working group will be contacting consultants over the coming months with a view to commissioning one in the autumn.
It comes after parking and traffic were identified as areas of concern in the Southwold Town Plan, which was published in October.
The town, which has less than 1,000 permanent residents, welcomes more than 8,000 visitors every day during the peak summer period.
Many of them arrive by car, leading to parking and congestion problems in the town's narrow Victorian roads.
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Suffolk County councillor Michael Ladd, who is also a town and district councillor, said it was necessary to look at traffic and parking in the whole of Southwold to ensure that changes in one part of the town didn't lead to problems somewhere else.
He said: 'We will commission a full review of traffic and parking in Southwold rather than take things in piecemeal and doing one bit that will have an impact on something else.
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'It will be a complete radical root and branch review of traffic flow and parking in the town. It is important to get an independent view of what we can and can't do.'
Mr Ladd said all options would be considered in the review, including a 20mph restriction in High Street and creating new car parks.
However, he stressed that this did not mean the changes would be brought in.
'We have got to look at every single thing,' he said. 'This is not something we are are going to do again for a long time. We have to put everything in to see what we can and can't do.'
Mr Ladd said he was not aware of there having been another traffic and parking review in Southwold in the 23 years he had been on the town council.
He said it would be expensive to carry out but the town council was committed to do it because of the build up of traffic over recent years.
Last summer, residents and businesses in Southwold called for action to tackle summer traffic problems after complaints that roads were being blocked by inconsiderate parking.
Community matron Cathy Ryan said she had to travel by bicycle to visit her patients during busy times because she was unable to park near their homes. Town councillors were also bombarded with complaints about the Blackmill Road and Wymering road area where parked cars had blocked the path of refuse lorries and prevented hearses parking outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church during funerals.
There are pay and display car parks at the pier and the harbour and time-limited parking bays in High Street but visitors can also park free in some residential streets.
An overflow car park can also be opened next to the Stella Peskett Millennium Hall in Mights Road for limited periods. The last time it was opened on May 5 , it was used by 160 cars.
Mr Ladd said: 'Parking is always at the top of the agenda in Southwold. We have made some progress in the High Street. Some think it is a lot better now that buses are not going that way.
'Maybe there is not a lot we can do. We have to keep an open mind.
'We will have to include the district council in this because they have the car parks and the county council highways. It is quite a big piece of work.'
Town councillor Will Windell said councillors had considered a number of options to resolve traffic problems, including parking permits for residents and a park and ride service from St Felix School, but there was concern that neither would be a successful solution.
He said: 'Parking is a problem in Southwold and I am not convinced that there is any one way that will actually stop it.
'As with so many things, it is about changing people's habits and not thinking we can always drive and park outside where we want to be.'
Suffolk County Council has conducted an informal public consultation on the introduction of parking restrictions in a number of roads in Southwold and is expected to launch a formal consultation later this year before making the changes.
The restrictions will prevent vehicles parking in the most congested streets. The areas currently being looked at include Blackmill Road, Cautley Road, Cumberland Road, Eversley Road, Ferry Road, Field Stile Road, Gardner Road, Manor Park Road, South Green, Stradbroke Road, Trinity Street, Victoria Street, Wymering Road, Tibbys Way.