14 January 2021
Babergh's Green group is likely to vote against the council's budget if there is nothing firmer in it about reaching carbon zero by 2030 and investing in space for walking, cycling and buses.The council's budget proposals include charging for short term parking in car parks in Hadleigh and Sudbury for the first time.Robert Lindsay, leader of the Green Group on Babergh District council said:"We need to see a proper, costed, long term plan for investment in buses and space for cycling and walking in Hadleigh and Sudbury before car parking charges for car drivers can be implemented. The danger is that without that, any income raised from car park charging will disappear into general funding and that long desired investments in buses, cycling and walking will never materialise.There has been virtually no investment in active travel in the past decade by Babergh so there is little trust amongst the public that it will happen now.The Green group believe the council is doing things in the wrong order. We need a proper long term strategic review of transport across Babergh looking at the policies we need to get to net zero carbon by 2030. The Suffolk Climate Change Partnership, of which Babergh is part, has proposed that a reduction of 25% car use in Suffolk is required to get to net zero by 2030. It is building consensus amongst the business community for this target. To get there will require Babergh to produce a ten year plan to invest in public transport, cycling, walking and car sharing so that people have an alternative to car use.However rather than produce such a plan, Babergh has drawn up an apparently hastily written report which seeks to introduce charging this summer. The report worryingly also makes mention of future plans for multi-storey car parks, something that would encourage yet more car driving and destroy the unique atmosphere of both Hadleigh and Sudbury. "The lack of long-term vision in the council's transport proposals comes despite the fact that its elected councillors have at least three times voted for long-term strategic transport plans to be produced.In July last year councillors unanimously passed a motion calling on Babergh to ensure there was "officer resource for a costed cycling strategy." This has still not happened. In October 2019 the council passed a motion calling for a "review of car and cycle parking provision in Sudbury and Hadleigh and identify what level of capacity will be needed." 15 months later this has still not happened and no date appears to be fixed for it.In July 2019 the council voted to adopt a goal to reduce carbon emissions across the county - not just the council's own emissions - to net zero by 2030. Transport emissions from private cars are the single largest emission source in Suffolk.
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