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Bury St Edmunds: Pay-and-display car parking charges scrapped in favour of pay-on-exit in attempt to encourage shoppers and tourists to stay for longer

PUBLISHED: 15:11 14 May 2014

The Cattle Market Arc surface car park in Bury St Edmunds.

The Cattle Market Arc surface car park in Bury St Edmunds.

A business group is delighted pay-on-exit has been recommended to be used “extensively” in the larger car parks in Bury St Edmunds, saying it would boost tourism and trade.

The report, written by independent parking consultant Manny Rasores de Toro, was commissioned following a review of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s car parks.

The town centre’s Business Improvement District (BID) organisation, Ourburystedmunds, has been pushing for pay-on-exit on behalf of its businesses.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Ourburystedmunds, said: “We are really pleased with the recommendations which support the view of businesses in the town that pay-on-exit is a feasible option for the town and will prevent the current situation of people rushing out of the town to get back to their cars for fear of receiving a fine.

“The current system actually works against the tourism and business offer in the town as there’s only two car parks where you can stay [continually] for more than four hours.”

The feasibility report says: “We believe that pay-on-exit using either barriers and tickets or pay by plate ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) could be used extensively in all the larger car parks in Bury St Edmunds overcoming the traditional problems associated with pay and display.

“It can also be assumed that if some customers were to park and pay for longer periods than currently, pay at exit it could generate some additional income.”

Mr Cordell said if the recommendations were followed through it would be a “huge boost” for tourism and trade in the town.

A borough council spokeswoman said the report highlighted pay-on-exit was most feasible at the Parkway multi-storey car park and Cattle Market Arc car parks due to their high turnover.

The report was commissioned by a group including St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Ourburystedmunds, the Arc, Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce and Suffolk County Council which will now look at the report in detail before consulting with a range of parties to establish the viability of introducing any of the options.

Councillor Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for economic development, said: “This report is the first, small step in considering a further substantial capital investment. The impacts have to be thoroughly understood before a viable plan can be developed which will be greatly helped by having the shared interest of the sponsoring group, although no time-scales are being committed to at this stage.”

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