A group of community leaders have submitted a call-in request that could see further scrutiny of a controversial decision to introduce parking tariffs in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham. 

On Monday the Babergh District Council plans, which were drawn up after the council announced it could no longer subsidise free parking as it faces a £6.7million budget gap, were given the green light by the cabinet. 

The approved proposal includes the introduction of a £1 charge for short stay parking for the first hour or £1 for the first two hours in long stay parking, with tariffs then rising in 50p increments, as well as a reduction in the cost of all day parking in Sudbury and Hadleigh from £3 to £2.50.

On Tuesday, councillor Simon Dowling, for Hadleigh North, submitted a call-in request on the decision which was co-signed by a cross-party group including Green, Labour and Independent councillors. 

Councillors can make call-ins in exceptional circumstances when they believe a decision has been taken in a way contrary to these principles, not for when they simply disagree with the decision and wish to appeal it.

East Anglian Daily Times:  Cllr Simon Dowling, for Hadleigh North Cllr Simon Dowling, for Hadleigh North (Image: Babergh District Council)

Cllr Dowling said: "This decision has been made by a small number of councillors on narrow financial grounds, without due regard to or reasonable accommodation of the significant level of public contention it has provoked well-founded objections regarding the impact on local economies and on vulnerable individuals have merely been brushed aside.

"The council's own 'targeted engagement' form of consultation revealed a majority of respondents opposed to the proposals, but cabinet has gone ahead and approved the original proposals nevertheless." 

He said there is 'serious political disagreement' on the issue, with some councillors in support while others are opposed, and added: "If the matter were to be voted on by full council, it would probably be defeated." 

He continued: "We wish the option of one hour free in all BDC-controlled car parks to be fully and properly reconsidered in the light of all available evidence.

"We therefore wish cabinet to instruct officers to research and present for discussion a wide range of alternative revenue-raising measures beyond varying car parking fees, so that cabinet can take a balanced and informed decision rather than declare that 'we must do this.'"

Babergh District Council said retaining an hour’s free parking would cost the council up to £262K in lost income per year, making it impossible to deliver the aims of the parking strategy.

East Anglian Daily Times: Babergh District Council said retaining an hour’s free parking would cost the council up to £262K in lost income per yearBabergh District Council said retaining an hour’s free parking would cost the council up to £262K in lost income per year (Image: Newsquest)

A Babergh spokesperson said: "Call in is an important part of our constitution, providing an extra layer of rigour, scrutiny and accountability to our decision-making. 

"It provides a way for councillors who do not sit on cabinet to ask that particular decisions are subjected to further review or scrutiny to offer full reassurance that the correct process has been followed. 

"It is important to note however, that call in cannot overturn a decision, only ask that it is reconsidered. 

"In terms of next steps, this is likely to mean the decision going back to the cross-party overview and scrutiny committee to check that due process and diligence has been followed, with any recommendation then going back to cabinet."