Bury St Edmunds: U-turn on on-street parking charges
BUSINESS leaders last night welcomed a decision to ditch controversial on-street parking charges in their town.
Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for roads and transport, Guy McGregor, yesterday withdrew orders that would have led to the introduction of an evening tariff for on-street parking in popular areas of Bury St Edmunds’ town centre.
He said he had come to the decision after being contacted by councillors and businesses who are against the idea.
The proposed tariff, which was set to be come into force on May 7, was aimed at on-street parking in Angel Hill, Corn Hill, the Butter Market and areas south of the town. It was intended to follow in the wake of the introduction of a £1 evening charge for Bury’s car parks brought in by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
The East Anglian Daily Times reported yesterday that business’s feared the new on-street charges would drive away visitors and impact Bury’s night-time economy.
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And last night Mr McGregor explained the U-turn: “We are responsible for about 10% of parking in the town and we normally take our lead from St Edmundsbury Borough Council. It makes sense that our parking charges are roughly in line with theirs. But I believe this is a change in policy and it should have been sanctioned by me and it wasn’t.”
He added: “I’ve spoken to local councillors and had feedback from businesses - they are on the doorstep and can convey the reaction from people in the town. It just rescinates with me - in a town where there is little public transport in the evening and people have to drive in, to ask people to pay for on-street parking has to be carefully thought through.”
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The surprise decision has been welcomed by Mark Cordell, chief executive of the town centre business improvement group, Bid4Bury. He said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this sensible decision has been made and that the parking charges will not be implemented. This would have been the only town in Suffolk where charges like this would have been introduced and there was no justificfation for them.”
However, Mr McGregor said he was still willing to consider the idea of evening on-street parking charges in Bury but any discuission on the subject would have to be deferred until after the local elections on May 2.