Bury wants park and ride as well

Business leaders say �400,000 raised in parking fees should be used for new park and ride in Bury, not to pay for the one in Ipswich.

Laurence Cawley

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds paid into the county's coffers each year should be kept and spent on a new park-and-ride for west Suffolk's fastest growing town, business leaders have urged.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council gives about �400,000 it makes annually from its on-street car parking in Bury St Edmunds to Suffolk County Council. The money then funds projects, including residential parking schemes, across the county.

Last year a significant amount from the scheme - supplemented by the county council - was given to its members to spend on improvements local to them.

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Rick Wildridge, chairman of Bury Chamber of Commerce, said: “We were told we could not afford the �400,000 or �500,000 cost of a park-and-ride. But we are giving our �400,000 to Ipswich. Effectively we are subsidising their park-and-ride.

“Bury is pretty full up at all the car parks and now the Arc has come on stream it is drawing more people in and we can now see queuing into the car parks.

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“The council (St Edmundsbury) does lay on temporary park-and-ride services. That is an admission that it is needed. But it has to be a full-time park-and-ride scheme so that everybody knows when and where it is.

“I see a park-and-ride scheme as a safety valve - we don't want to wait until there's complete gridlock.”

But Guy McGregor, chairman of the eastern Regional Transport Forum and the county council's most recent portfolio-holder for roads and transport (a position currently vacant until new cabinet appointments in the wake of elections), said: “A lot of this money is going back into St Edmundsbury. We focus on quality of life and this money means we can do things throughout the county which are much needed and much welcomed.

“Businesses should be very careful when they are saying how council taxpayers' money should be used. They, as businesses, are not paying council tax but business rates, which go to the Treasury.”

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