Free parking available from Friday

To coincide with the easing of national coronavirus restrictions which will enable a wide range of businesses to reopen, free 30-minute parking will be available in 48 of East Suffolk Council’s car parks from Friday.

Last month, East Suffolk Council agreed to extend its existing free parking scheme to an additional 13 car parks in response to concerns from local businesses about the impact of Covid-19. These changes will be introduced on Friday 4 December, meaning that the council’s 30-minute free parking tariff will be available in 48 different car parks across the district.

Having introduced new tariffs in August, which were designed to simplify charges and better reflect the needs and historic usage of parking facilities, it has become clear that issues created by the virus have affected parking behaviour

Some car parks which previously did not offer this particular tariff were in towns where it was agreed that a large number of ‘on street’ parking bays were sufficient and the car parks themselves could prioritise shoppers and visitors making longer visits.

However, social distancing measures in towns have removed a number of these bays and because of this reduction in availability, the council has decided to offer it more widely as part of its ‘off street’ car park provision.

The council also believes that the overall impacts of Covid-19 on high streets and businesses mean that extra steps should be taken to encourage more people to return and ‘shop local’.

Cllr Norman Brooks, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “Moving into Tier 2 enables many businesses to reopen and for customers to return safely to our towns to support our local businesses in the run up to Christmas. Social distancing measures have reduced the number of ‘on street’ bays and so it makes sense to increase availability in our car parks for people who are making quick ‘pop in’ visits to our town centres

“Before this year, our car park charges varied enormously with no fewer than 56 different tariffs. These were inconsistent and difficult to justify, so we introduced a far simpler scheme which not only made it easier for people to understand but also reflected the genuine requirements of businesses and visitors alike.”

With Covid-19 restrictions reduced, parking patrols will also be monitoring residential zones and car parks from Friday 4 December. Responsibility for managing roadside parking offences in Suffolk was transferred from the Police to the district and borough councils earlier this year in a bid to improve parking locally and drive down nuisance and unlawful parking. Residential parking schemes are available in Beccles, Halesworth, Lowestoft and Woodbridge and from Friday, East Suffolk Council’s parking officers will be checking that these schemes are being used only by permit holders. To reduce inconsiderate parking and abuse of these schemes and council-owned car parks, any irresponsible or nuisance parking will now be enforced.

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