A decision on whether free parking should be scrapped in towns and villages such as Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham will be made by March. 

In December, Babergh District Council announced plans to charge for parking throughout the district in order to balance out its books

Three hours of free parking is currently available in council-owned car parks in the towns and village. 

The new tariffs would only apply to council-run car parks, with existing on-street parking remaining unchanged and Blue Badge holders still able to park in the council’s car parks for free.

But the cost of subsidising the free parking costs the authority about £425,000 a year, it said, and it is set to increase next year.

Speaking at the Babergh District Council Scrutiny Committee on Monday, Arthur Charvonia, the chief executive of Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, said a decision whether to charge for the time that is currently free will be made around March. 

During the meeting, leader of Babergh council David Busby said the authority would look at offering other transport services into the town if free parking was scrapped. 

East Anglian Daily Times: David Busby, leader of Babergh District CouncilDavid Busby, leader of Babergh District Council (Image: Babergh Council)

Speaking previously, Mr Busby said: “Like all local authorities, we are facing tough financial decisions for the year ahead and find ourselves facing an increasingly difficult challenge.

“We need to balance our books; we need to support our high streets and town centre businesses by encouraging trade; and we need to encourage more sustainable travel in order reduce congestion in our towns, improve air quality and tackle climate change."

A petition has been launched to save free parking in the locations

More than 3,300 people have signed the online petition. 

A consultation has also been launched to discuss options for charges to parking tariffs in the affected areas.