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'It would be a disaster for a struggling little town' - fears parking charges could destroy town's high street

PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 06:52 14 November 2019

Brandon shopkeepers and staff with town councillor Gary Brocklehurst (far right back). They are against the proposed plans to introduce car parking charges in the town. Photo: Mark Skinner

Brandon shopkeepers and staff with town councillor Gary Brocklehurst (far right back). They are against the proposed plans to introduce car parking charges in the town. Photo: Mark Skinner

Mark Skinner

A community fears that introducing parking charges would be a "disaster for a little town that is struggling" and could force shops to close.

The new Brandon in Bloom team have planted daffodils around Brandon.
front is Gary BrocklehurstThe new Brandon in Bloom team have planted daffodils around Brandon. front is Gary Brocklehurst

Concerns have been raised after Brandon Town Council heard on Monday, November 11, that one of the options being looked at by West Suffolk Parking Review Group was to bring in parking charges in the town.

Since the meeting, members of the community have expressed their objections and say that this could mean the end for their already struggling town.

Gary Brocklehurst, town councillor, and chairman of Brandon in Bloom, set up a petition after the town council meeting to ensure the idea is not taken forward.

He said: "It will kill us. Shops are struggling so much and we have a lack of so many things in Brandon. It would be the nail in the coffin.

The community in Brandon have said they do not want to see car parking charges in the town. Pictured: Brandon town sign. PHOTO: IAN BURT COPY:Isabel Cockayne FOR:EDP News EDP pics © 2006 (01603)772434The community in Brandon have said they do not want to see car parking charges in the town. Pictured: Brandon town sign. PHOTO: IAN BURT COPY:Isabel Cockayne FOR:EDP News EDP pics © 2006 (01603)772434

"Our footfall on the high street is minimal - it's difficult for these guys. People won't afford to come into the town and shop owners won't afford to park anywhere."

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Councillor David Nettleton, chairman of the West Suffolk Parking Review Group for West Suffolk Council, said: "No decisions have been made by the council on parking or charges.

"There is an independent cross council group to look at how best to manage car parking issues such as capacity and use, which I chair.

"Recommendations will be made from this group to cabinet for their consideration. Although we are looking at various options, as yet no proposals have been formally put forward.

"The group is conscious of the effect any charging has and as part of our work we have talked to local members."

West Suffolk Parking Review group presented the idea to address the need for more parking in the town.

But the petition to prevent parking charges has nearly 1,000 signatures as local businesses and residents rally together against it.

Mark Skinner, from London Road, is a former business owner and part of Brandon Traders Group who took to the town's Facebook Forum page after he watched the live stream of the council meeting revealing these plans, where he called it a "disgrace".

He said: "We are a small town, with not a lot of businesses, limited parking for doctors, schools and shops, if they start charging £1 an hour it will be the very death of shopping in Brandon."

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