Charity car park boost for Southwold

RELIEF for Southwold's parking problems could come as soon as Easter after work began on a new charity car park that could deliver a double benefit to the town.

The �10,000 project will see a new temporary car park created off Mights Road – opposite the Stella Peskett Millennium Hall – to ease congestion during busy holiday periods.

The money made from the parking fees will be collected by a local charity to fund future projects in the area.

The move was welcomed this week by people in Southwold as a way of tackling its traffic woes. But it has been made clear the 500-space car park is temporary and can only operate a maximum of 28 days a year without planning permission.

Michael Ladd is the chairman of the Southwold Millennium Foundation which is behind the car park plans. He is hopeful it will be ready by Easter.

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He said: 'It is not a permanent solution, but something we can use during busy periods. It is going to ease parking at the top part of the town and towards the pier. Our thinking all along is that it will be the first option for people coming into Southwold. It will be ideally located for people who want to park and don't mind a little bit of a walk into the town – perfect for day trippers.

Mr Ladd, who is also a town and district councillor, added: 'Five hundred cars each being charged �3 – that is �1,500 in a day.'

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The foundation is using money generated from public tours of Southwold lighthouse to fund the car park, while the freehold of the land was gifted to the charity by Southwold Town Council. Volunteers will be tasked with looking after the site, which will cater for about 500 cars.

It has also been proposed that drivers pay a one-off charge to park all day, in the region of �3 to �5, which will go straight to the Southwold Millennium Foundation.

But work still needs to be done before the site is accessible to motorists, with kerbs being adapted in the coming weeks.

PC Christopher Sadler, who is based at Southwold police station, believes the car park will help to ease parking problems in the town. He said: 'It will help with regards to the limited parking bays in the town centre. They are meant for people who want to pop in for 30 minutes and pick up something from the shops. But people abuse them by leaving their cars there for two or three hours. If we can reduce that, then we can help the shopkeepers by allowing people who need to use the bays to park there, while pointing others to the new car park.'

He added: 'The new park will also be just down the road from the police station, so we'll be able to keep an eye on it.'

Meanwhile, John Perkins, secretary of the Southwold and Reydon Society, welcomed the new car park, but stressed the importance of finding a permanent solution to the town's traffic problems.

He said: 'It is a good thing, but it is only a short term solution. We need to take a long hard look at the traffic problem in this town. In an ideal world we would introduce some kind of park and ride system.

'We have places in Southwold selling stickers that say 'I managed to find a car parking space in Southwold'. It has become a joke, but it isn't a joke if you cant find anywhere to park.

'The town plan will be a good opportunity to see how we deal with traffic and parking as a whole.'

If the temporary car park is a success, inquiries will be made to see if a permanent car park can be created on the site to serve visitors to the town and people using Stella Peskett Millennium Hall.

Guy Mitchell, chairman of Southwold and District Chamber of Trade, said: 'Parking in Southwold is a difficult problem to crack, but this is a really good step. Anything that makes parking easier for people visiting Southwold is a good thing.'

•If you would like to volunteer to help with the new charity car park, then contact the Southwold Millennium Foundation trustees on 01502 725660.

*What do you think? Send your views to Postbox, The Journal, 147, London Road North Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email including your name and address.

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