Concern over festive car park closures

A SENIOR Colchester councillor has admitted he is “not at all comfortable” with plans to close major town centre car parks on two of the busiest Christmas shopping days.

A SENIOR Colchester councillor has admitted he is “not at all comfortable” with plans to close major town centre car parks on two of the busiest Christmas shopping days.

Hi-tech sensory equipment is being installed in St Mary's car park tomorrow and St John's car park next Sunday as part of a £280,000 system informing motorists of available parking spaces at various locations around the town.

However, the timing has been criticised as the first closure coincides with the ceremonial switching on of the Colchester Christmas lights tomorrow afternoon.

Colchester Borough Council deputy leader Christopher Arnold, who is also street services portfolio holder, said he was unhappy with the timing of tomorrow's closure but the decision had been made by the county council, with whom the borough council is co-funding the project.


You may also want to watch:


He said: “I'm not at all comfortable doing it. But you have to consider whether there will be enough car parking spaces, and I will put money on the fact that they will not be taken up.

“They will be shut for a few hours. Obviously it can't be done while they are open and I'm told it is a very noisy operation and it can't be done at night as there are quite a lot of people living nearby both.

Most Read

“There won't be any commuters in there on Sunday, there will be plenty of spaces in all the car parks.”

Colchester has about 4,000 town centre car parking spaces, and Mr Arnold feels the loss of 630 at St Mary's and 650 at St John's will not present major problems.

However, Don Quinn, who organises a number of events around the town including the forthcoming Christmas fair on December 3, said the decision to shut St Mary's was a surprise.

He said: “It just seems utterly bonkers. Why do it now? It reeks of a lack of organisation. Why not wait until after Christmas not the time of year when people are trying to get people into the town.”

The service will incorporate five major car parks around the town, including St Mary's and St John's, and will see six electronic signs positioned on key routes in to town which aim to reduce long queues during peak periods.

Yesterday, Essex County Council confirmed that the work was set for completion before Christmas but would be subjected to some validation tests in the New Year to determine the accuracy of the system.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter