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Babergh Cabinet conduct public consultation

January 21, 2021 1:58 PM
By Cllr Dave Busby

nbdaEver since Babergh announced that it had plans to introduce short-term car parking charges in the market towns of Hadleigh and Sudbury the social media airwaves have been humming. A couple of petitions - one valid, one not - were presented to Babergh and because of the 1600 names it had to be discussed at a Full Council Meeting on January 19th.

The petition was:

We the undersigned petition the Council to Maintain the free parking in all Hadleigh car parks.

It is now more essential than ever for the vitality and future of Hadleigh High Street to enable local and visiting shoppers to park free of charge. A number of new outlets have only just opened and to impinge businesses sustainability by the introduction of parking charges would be completely retrograde. Any decisions of this nature should only take place after the fullest public consultation.

Without going into the 60 minutes of debate which followed a number of speeches from the petitioner, the Mayor of Hadleigh and all of the town's district councillors it was clear that feelings were running high. Probably a good time for the meeting to be held virtually - it also gave more people the chance to watch proceedings live on YouTube.

So, let's cut to the chase - what was the voting tally? Normally when we do a virtual meeting vote it is done electronically but of course on a sensitive topic such as car parking there were enough vultures looking for a fresh kill to call for a recorded vote. The officer runs down the list of councillors in alphabetical order and calls for a "For", "Against" or "Abstain" response. The votes are totalled up and the result announced. Of the 32 councillors 30 were present.

Before the vote was called there was some concern amongst the cabinet members as to which they way they should vote - usually, when the citizens want to storm the citadel the cabinet presents a united front. On this occasion they got it all wrong (or did they). 5 voted Against, 2 Abstained and 1 voted For - me. Now as my surname begins with a 'B' I am one of the earliest to declare and I firmly expected for the resolution to fail quite convincingly so it came as quite a surprise when the scores on the doors were 14 For, 14 Against and 2 Abstained.

A tied vote requires the Chair to break the deadlock with a casting vote. I'll leave you to guess which way she voted but just to give you a clue - she is one of Hadleigh's district councillors. This story has some way to run yet.