Consultation on measures to ease town residents' parking frustration

Vehicles parked in Churchgate Street in Bury.

Vehicles parked in Churchgate Street in Bury. - Credit: Archant

Options are being put forward to address a town's long-running problem of oversubscribed residential parking schemes.

Bury St Edmunds residents have been growing increasingly frustrated over a lack of available spaces in their parking zones.

We previously reported that more than three times as many permits than available spaces were issued for the central Zone D area.

West Suffolk Council says many of the town’s existing parking schemes are heavily oversubscribed, but it is unable to refuse genuine permit applications.

The council has used firm 2020 Consultancy to look independently at the 12 residents' parking zones in Bury St Edmunds and, following an initial questionnaire with residents in 2021, they have come up with a series of options.

They include: 

  • Allowing permit holders to use West Suffolk car parks overnight (between 6pm and 8am) at no extra charge;
  • Extending the operating times of all permit schemes from 8am to 8pm (these currently vary with some operating from 10am to 4pm and some 8am to 6pm) and bring in more evening enforcement;
  • Integrating permit zones where one is heavily subscribed and another less so;
  • Asking Suffolk County Council to review yellow lining with a view to enabling more parking bays;
  • Reviewing the issuing of trade permits in zones (charging or limiting the number issued).

West Suffolk Council is now asking parking zone residents for their views to help decide what to do next.

Vivien Gainsborough Foot, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association, in Whiting Street in the Medi

Vivien Gainsborough Foot, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association, in Whiting Street in the medieval grid - Credit: Archant

Vivien Gainsborough Foot, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association (CAA), which represents residents and businesses in the medieval grid area, said: "I am delighted with the proposals as long as words are transformed into deeds.  

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"The CAA have been waiting for over six months for the 30 new residents' spaces, given a TRO [Traffic Regulation Order] in July 2021, to be implemented."

She said the association had been pushing for such measures for years.

The view down Churchgate Street, which is part of the zone D residents' parking scheme Picture: MARI

The view down Churchgate Street, which is part of the heavily-oversubscribed zone D residents' parking scheme - Credit: Archant

Councillor Peter Stevens, cabinet member for operations at West Suffolk Council, said: “We have every sympathy with these residents and the growing frustration they are feeling.

"One option that we have asked the company 2020 not to progress was their suggestion that we increase the price of first and second permits.

"Although our costs may rise depending on what options residents tell us they would like implemented, a cost rise in itself, is not a solution to the issue at hand.”

Other options to be put to residents include: limiting the number of second permits a household is allowed to one, making Blue Badge holders liable to pay for their resident permits and ceasing free permits to residents of pensionable age who do not own a car – but allowing them to buy visitor vouchers instead.

Mr Stevens added: "It is likely that our long-term strategy will involve a combination of these options.

"Before we do anything further, however, we want to hear the views of residents so that they may help shape the solution to their parking needs.

"I would urge residents to keep any eye out for the survey being posted through their doors by the company 2020, and to give their feedback.”

West Suffolk Council said it carries out stringent checks to ensure permits and vouchers are not bought by anyone who isn’t a resident.

Since April 2020, the council has also been responsible for Civil Parking Enforcement, which in effect means residents who had previously not been able to find a space in their parking zone but who previously got away with parking illegally instead, are now being issued with fines.