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Sudbury’s businesses are proud to be able to offer their customers 3 hours free parking in their District Council Car Parks. However, there is currently a review by Babergh District Council who are considering starting charging for the currently free period and businesses are very concerned by how this will affect their trade. There has been a lot of publicity about how High Streets all over the country are struggling, initially it was the competition from out of town shopping, who not only benefit from being able to offer free parking but also have lower business rates, now it is the growth in online shopping, which again does not have the same high levels of business rates. Reports can be found to show evidence that shopkeepers overestimate the proportion of customers that travel by car. However, these reports relate to metropolitan areas rather than small rural towns where many people have no option but to drive to the shops.
Jane Hatton from the Sudbury Town Team said “Local authorities should see free parking as a service for local people not a short term method to raise money and more importantly as a way of supporting their market towns.”
John Hume co-owner of Angelo Smith Jewellers in North Street, Sudbury said “the introduction of parking charges will have a disastrous effect on the footfall coming into Sudbury. I know this as we had a shop in Stowmarket, which saw a dramatic decline in trade once car parking charges were introduced and therefore we no longer trade in the town.”
Doug Dickson from Juniper Flowers in North Street, Sudbury said “As a small independent trader in Sudbury the free parking is of the utmost importance to us. We pay a horrendous amount of business rates and if the free parking is removed there will be a drop in footfall, drop in revenue, closure of another shop, then who would want to pay to park for an empty abandoned high street?”