As a resident of Babergh I am so disappointed by the parking charges saga.

It was decided during a cabinet meeting on Monday that parking charges would be implemented in areas such as Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham. 

Ever since the proposal was first raised I had a feeling that the charges would be brought in but I held out hope that residents would be listened to. As they say, it is the hope that kills you. 

Parking charges of £1 are set to be introduced and I know that doesn't sound like a lot - but I fear that people will simply not bother coming into our market towns and villages. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Sudbury town centreSudbury town centre (Image: Newsquest)

I think it was quite shortsighted of the council to not have at least one hour free. I think that would have been a fair compromise. 

The parking charges felt inevitable after new ticket machines were introduced into most of the car parks around the town. 

I love Sudbury, always have and always will, but I cannot see how introducing the charges is supposed to attract people to the town. 

East Anglian Daily Times: New parking charges will be introduced in SudburyNew parking charges will be introduced in Sudbury (Image: Newsquest)

Sudbury is full of great shops and independent businesses and I feel these should be supported as much as they can possibly be. 

Residents and busines owners across Sudbury, Lavenham and Hadleigh had voiced their concerns about the parking charges.

More than 8,000 people signed an online petition stating that they were against the proposal. But I feel as if their concerns simply fell on deaf ears. 

It was good to hear that under the plans, leisure centre users in Sudbury and Hadleigh would be reimbursed for their parking charges, as would shoppers at Roys in Sudbury.

But although I enjoyed the time during lockdown when Market Hill was closed off to traffic and made into extra dining space, I fear Sudbury Town Council's decision to do it again this summer may leave some people with a sour taste in their mouths, especially as that is some of the parking that will remain free in Sudbury. 

In January I wrote an opinion piece in this newspaper and said that parking charges would be the "death of our town centre" as we know it, and I still honestly believe that. 

In response John Ward, acting leader of Babergh District Council, said some of the money raised through parking charges could be reinvested in parking and sustainable transport for the district.

He added: "This will allow improvements to create positive first and last impressions of our towns for visitors – and the introduction of travel options which reduce carbon emissions and ease congestion."

I really hope this happens.

Don't get me wrong. I know Babergh needs to find ways to make money. I really do understand that, but I feel like the whole process was rushed and other options could have been explored. 

If there is one thing me and John Ward can agree on it's the fact that this council matter has been quite possibly the most divisive the district council has seen. 

I just hope the money made from parking charges is put to good use.

Time will only tell if the decision was the right one or not.

The opinions expressed in this column are the personal views of Johnny Amos and do not necessarily reflect views held by this newspaper, its sister publications or its owner and publisher Newsquest Media Group Ltd.

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