Parking charges could rise in Waveney
Motorists in Waveney could be forced to pay more to park their cars in the new year in an attempt to lessen the impact of the VAT increase.
Waveney District Council is proposing to raise its parking charges by an average of 5p an hour to cover some of the additional costs which will come from the VAT increase from 17.5pc to 20pc in January.
The plans, which will be discussed by the council's cabinet at a meeting next Wednesday, include increasing hourly rates at car parks across Lowestoft, Southwold, Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth by 5p, with all-day charges going up from �4.25 to �4.40 or from �3.15 to �3.25.
Sue Patterson, manager of Palmers department store in Lowestoft, said that the car parks are already too expensive.
She said: 'I think the amount people are expected to pay for parking is disgraceful and a further increase is counter-productive because fewer people will come shopping in Lowestoft.
'It's enough of a struggle now for the shops and the car parks are empty. This is the wrong thing to do. It's the easy option, but any money they get back will be minimal because nobody will come here.
'We've got some free parking in place in the lead-up to Christmas, but this will be a blow in the new year on top of the VAT increase.'
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Christine Pinsent, chairman of the Beccles Business Association who owns a shop in the town centre, said: 'This isn't going to help the situation here, but with all the government cuts this seems to be something we're going to have to live with.'
A council spokesman said: 'Waveney District Council is increasing the cost of car parking by 5p per hour in order to recover costs the council will incur due to the VAT increase in January next year.
'Five pence is the lowest denomination we could raise the cost by - we cannot make the increase any lower for car park users - and all income we receive from operating car parks in Waveney helps to support the council's overall budget.'
News of the proposed increase to car parking charges comes just a week after the council announced free parking on Thursday nights and Saturdays in Lowestoft during December, and parking charges in the Blyburgate car park in Beccles have been suspended until the end of November while work continues to repair the hole in the road outside Pennington's opticians.