A council cabinet has been urged to be in 'listening mode' ahead of a looming decision on parking tariffs for a Suffolk district.

Parking in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham is currently free for three hours, but Babergh District Council announced it could no longer subsidise free parking as it faces a £6.7million budget gap.

It proposes an introduction of a £1 charge for short stay parking for the first hour or £1 for two hours in long stay parking, as well as a reduction in the cost of all day parking in Sudbury and Hadleigh from £3 to £2.50.

East Anglian Daily Times: Babergh District Council announced it could no longer subsidise free parking as it faces a £6.7million budget gapBabergh District Council announced it could no longer subsidise free parking as it faces a £6.7million budget gap (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown, Newsquest)

The plans will go before Babergh District Council's cabinet on Monday, April 8.

Ahead of the meeting Hadleigh South councillor Kathryn Grandon has urged the members to be in 'listening mode'. 

Cllr Grandon said: "I have been getting lots of emails from people who are concerned, emails from members of Hadleigh Town Council who feel that they haven't been heard and who are very worried about the position, emails from members of the public.

"There's a lot of worry from lots of people, not just Babergh district councillors. 

She continued: "I just hope that the cabinet are not going to be blinkered.

"We have provided from the overview and scrutiny Committee 11 very sensible and not overly ambitious recommendations and some of them are compromises anyway, like the one hour free parking.

"If they don't consider that it makes a mockery of the consultation. The cabinet needs to demonstrate that they are in listening mode."

Recommendations put together by the overview and scrutiny committee on March 18 include consideration of a range of tariffs including a one-hour free parking option, further exploration of on-street resident parking permits and consideration of rebates in Hadleigh, Sudbury and Lavenham in car parks serving doctors surgeries and medical centres. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Cllr Kathryn GrandonCllr Kathryn Grandon (Image: Babergh District Council)

Cllr Grandon said she fears some Hadleigh businesses would struggle if tariffs were brought in that might put visitors off taking a trip into the town.

"When you go out into the streets talking to residents everyone is really worried about it, especially shop keepers," she said.

"There are one or two businesses that will do well whatever happens but there are others that I know it won't take much for them to be in a very difficult position so I am really worried about it and so are they."

She also said many residents had expressed that they would be content losing a service to retain free parking, but their views were not being explored.

"Many said to us during the surveys we took that they would be happy to pay more council tax to retain free parking," she said.

"That is not possible due to government restrictions on how much local government can increase council tax, but it does illustrate how important free parking is to people and if people were given an opportunity to make a choice, free parking would be high in their list of priorities and they would prefer to lose another service."

In March, a Babergh spokesperson said: "As we have said throughout this process, the council can no longer afford to subsidise free parking without risking cuts to other essential services, but we have been keen to find the best solution by seeking feedback from the town and parish councils affected, local organisations, and our own councillors. 

"We have also ensured our draft proposals received thorough scrutiny from the cross-party overview and scrutiny committee, ahead of recommendations going before cabinet for decision next month."