‘Pay on exit parking trial shows council’s support for challenged high street’

Mike Kirkham of OurBuryStEdmunds Business Improvement District, Cllr Peter Stevens, Cabinet Member f

Mike Kirkham of OurBuryStEdmunds Business Improvement District, Cllr Peter Stevens, Cabinet Member for Operations at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Garry Easter, chairman of Our Bury St Edmunds and manager of Marks and Spencer in the town, and Cllr Susan Glossop, St Edmundsbury's Cabinet Member for Planning and Growth Picture: St EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: St EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL

A £10,000 investment is being made into trialling cashless pay on exit parking in Bury St Edmunds to give shoppers and visitors the flexibility to stay longer.

At the St Andrews Car Park, behind the bus station, existing ticket machines will be modified along with new signs to enable people to ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ in the short stay area from June.

People will be able to park up, wave their debit or credit card at the contactless pad, type in their vehicle registration and then be ready to go.

This move by St Edmundsbury Borough Council follows calls from business group Ourburystedmunds, who reported anecdotal evidence from retailers who said they were missing out on sales as customers needed to hurry back to their cars before their parking was up.

Garry Easter, chairman of Ourburystedmunds and manager of Marks and Spencer in the town, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to work with the council to find a solution to how we can deliver a more flexible form of parking.

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“We have heard some anecdotal feedback from businesses that people are leaving shops or cafes and restaurants because they need to get back to their car before their ticket expires.

“This overcomes that problem and shows the council’s support at a time when the nature of the high street nationally is going through change and retailers are having to adapt to the challenges ahead.”

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Susan Glossop, cabinet member for planning and growth at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “We recognise that it is a challenging time for many of our local retailers.

“Town centre footfall, which had been increasing year on year, has dipped slightly.

“More importantly is the amount that people actually spend in the shops and other town centre businesses. We can’t control whether somebody choses to visit a shop to buy an item as opposed to ordering it online, but we can encourage people to shop local, visit our town centre more often, stay longer and spend more.”

Peter Stevens, cabinet member for operations at the council, said the success of the trial would need to be monitored in terms of the numbers using it, its popularity, its impact on footfall and retail spend and its effect on congestion and queuing at Saturday lunchtimes when car parking demand is highest.

He added: “If the trial proves a success we can then look to extend its use to other car parks in Bury St Edmunds and elsewhere in west Suffolk. We will of course continue to offer competitively-priced long-stay options in our other long-stay car parks around the town.”

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