The new mayor of Sudbury has said she will continue to fight for some level of free parking in the town's car parks.

Alison Owen has been sworn in as Mayor of Sudbury, with Andrew Welsh as her deputy, for the year 2024/25. 

She said she hopes to be able to make Sudbury more of an 'events town' with more to draw in visitors. 

East Anglian Daily Times: New Sudbury mayor Alison OwenNew Sudbury mayor Alison Owen (Image: Sudbury Town Council)

"We're not going to go backwards now, we're not going to have the giant shops coming in, so we have to make our own little town," she said.

"We've got so many beautiful independent shops and cafes and hairdressers, we've got to make something of it."

She explained this is why she was 'disappointed' when the town council's decision to close part of Market Hill to drivers during the summer months, creating outdoor dining space for the restaurants, was cancelled by Suffolk County Council.

Cllr Owen, who has lived in Sudbury and surrounding villages all her life, also said Babergh District Council (BDC) plans for car parking charges could be a 'downer' on the town. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Sudbury's Market HillSudbury's Market Hill (Image: Newsquest)

"Having car parking charges is a real concern for me as mayor. I believe that we might now need to fight for the hour free.

"I know it is a compromise, but I think it is important for the town." 

BDC has maintained that it can no longer subsidise free parking in Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham as it faces a £6.7million budget gap.

They said that 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.

Plans to introduce the tariffs were given the green light by cabinet in April but, after they were called in for further scrutiny, they are set to go before the cabinet once again for a final discussion.

Speaking of her predecessor mayor Jan Osborne, she said: "I feel that even coming close to the mayor Jan was I will do well.

"She was out there, and that's what you've got to be, out there talking to the people."

She highlighted the 753 bus, which runs between Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds and is now picking up and dropping off much later and on Sundays, as a 'huge positive' for the town.

"It's such a relief that we've got that, especially for our elderly residents," she said.

Cllr Owen's other priorities include partnership working with BDC and SCC and establishing good communication between the three.

She plans to hold a meet and greet event once a month in the town hall, with the first taking place on June 8.