Poll: Fury over night-time parking charges in Bury St Edmunds

Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds

Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

‘LUDICROUS’ new parking charges in Bury St Edmunds will drive away visitors and impact on the town’s night-time economy, it is feared.

Suffolk County Council has confirmed that an evening tariff for on street parking will be introduced in Angel Hill, Corn Hill, the Butter Market and areas south of the town centre from May 7.

The move follows the start of a £1 evening charge in all of the town’s car parks, brought in by St Edmundsbury Borough Council after a lengthy review.

But business leaders, who say they have not been consulted, have accused county hall of simply pursuing “easy money” while dismissing claims that keeping parking free in the area will cause congestion.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of the town centre business improvement group Bid4 Bury said: “I feel let down, the county council were talking about supporting business and then they do this. There is no need for it.

“We are trying hard to attract people from outside of Bury to come here for an evening out. People have to consider the cost of petrol as it is without this additional cost. I am concerned they will decide instead to go to a nearer town who are not charging and this will affect our businesses.”

He added: “We have got a thriving night-time economy, not just night clubs we’ve got restaurants, pubs loads of places to eat. Why would you want to do this? They claim it will cause traffic gridlock if they don’t. The only conclusion I can come to is that it is easy money. It’s just laziness; they’ve followed the borough council.”

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Richard Bird, owner of The Street Level Cafe in Abbeygate Street, said: “From a business perspective, it’s just going to drive more people out of town. The night time charging is ludicrous. It will really put people off. I’ve already lost custom because the parking on Angel Hill has gone up 10% every year for the last three years. The bottom line is it’s a cash cow. ”

Mark Ereira, Green county councillor for tower division, said the £1 charge “defied belief”. He added: The county council are basically copying St Edmundsbury’s introduction of night time charging as if it’s the same thing with no discussion. “There’s no discussion with business community, no discussion with county councillors who are democratically accountable to the electorate next week on these sorts of matters. I’m really concerned at the impact it will have on the night time economy and local trade. It is total nonsense”

Mr Ereira said the move would cause visitors to look for spaces in nearby resident zones where restrictions end at about 5pm.

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for roads and transport, said in effect the consultation had been carried out by St Edmundsbury during their review.

He added: “What we do is keep the on-street car parking charges in sync with the borough’s off-street car parking charges. That is the way it has been done and it is a long-standing policy. The decision about car parking charges in Bury St Edmunds is taken by St Edmundsbury, so the consultation is always theirs, they do that work. Obviously, it would be a nonsense if the on-street was out of sync with the off-street.”

Mr McGregor said money raised from the spaces, which accounts for 10% of the total number of managed parking spaces in Bury, is recycled back into better facilities for motorists.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said that a consistent approach to parking charges across the town helps avoid

congestion around on-street parking areas.

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “Suffolk County Council controls parking charges on the streets and while the Borough Council can, and does, suggest changes to provide coordination across the whole town centre, it is of course up to the county council to decide what, and when, they want to charge.

The £1 charge will not apply on Tuesday in line with St Edmundsbury’s ‘Free from 3’ offer.

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