Bury St Edmunds: Drivers pay the price for illegal parking as revenue doubles following crackdown
10:23 29 May 2014
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A crackdown on drivers leaving their cars in spaces reserved for residents in west Suffolk is paying off after the revenue from parking fines doubled in only a year.
New figures obtained by the EADT show the total income from excess charge notices for Suffolk County Council – which is responsible for all on-street parking in Bury and Haverhill – soared last year from £29,600 to £57,800.
The crackdown – enforced by St Edmundsbury Borough Council officers on behalf of the county – was spurred on by repeated complaints from residents, who had paid up to £80 for permits only to find themselves unable to park due to rogue drivers taking up the spaces. However, while the county council’s parking strategy may be benefitting Bury’s residents, businesses traditionally served by parking on the Angel Hill have urged the authority to do more to help the end of town not reaping the rewards of the Arc shopping centre.
The county council sets the charges for three parking areas – the Angel Hill, the Buttermarket, and on-street parking near St Edmundsbury Cathedral – and the same Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed income from standard tickets in these areas fell by almost £60,000 last year.
Ninos, in Abbeygate Street, is to close after just eight months of trading and owner Claire Gross said the cost of parking on Angel Hill was driving people away.
“We’ve had so many people come in and say ‘I don’t come into town that often – it’s quite expensive’,” said Mrs Gross. “All the independents round here are struggling. A lot of people say the Arc has ruined the town centre, and there’s a little bit of me which is saying that’s actually right.
“It’s much easier to park at the other end of town and if they park at this end of town they don’t come in here when they first park, then they’re rushing back to their car because they’ve only put two hours on it.”
Parking on the Angel Hill costs £1.50 for half an hour and £3.50 for two hours – the maximum length of stay.
At the other end of town, parking at the Robert Boby Way car park for an hour costs just 20p, while all-day parking at the Parkway multi-storey costs £2.30.
A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said: “Angel Hill is some of the prime car parking in the town and is vital for the businesses in that area.
“However, it would not be appropriate for it to be used for long-stay parking as most of the businesses have stated that they rely on a turnover of space, which would diminish if longer stays were encouraged.”
She added the charges were set “to deter long-stay use”, citing the Arc car park and Ram Meadow as places better suited for longer stays.
Richard Bird, owner of The Street Level cafe in Abbeygate Street, has long been an advocate of ‘pay-on-exit’ parking, which was recommended for Bury in a recent independent report.
Mr Bird said: “You can always get a parking space there (on the Angel Hill) now. Car parking charges are putting people off.
“They make it expensive to deter people from parking their for a long time – why don’t they make it £2 an hour? If somebody was then to stay there all day, that’s their choice.”
Income from excess charge notices in Bury and Haverhill