Residents’ anger over parking decision

RESIDENTS have hit out at council bosses who claim there is not enough cash for a �25,000 parking project - despite forking out �650-a-day on a spin doctor.

Parking issues have blighted the lives of those living in the Mildenhall and Howard estates in Bury St Edmunds for years.

Because of the lack of adequate off-street parking in the two estates - which are home to about 6,000 people - drivers often have to leave their vehicles on roads and verges, triggering concerns about public safety.

Residents joined forces with their local councillors in asking for �25,000 from Suffolk County Council to pay fund research into what might be done to alleviate the problems.

The county council has rejected the funding bid, saying there is not enough cash.

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But critics last night questioned the decision - asking why the council cannot fund the parking project but can afford to pay its new interim communications chief Jill Rawlins �650 a day.

Susanne Game, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants, said the council chiefs lived in “a different world”, adding: “Parking is a big problem here, it is bad. When cars and vans are left on bends it is dangerous.

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“We are really disappointed about this and I think everybody else will be too.”

At a meeting of the county council yesterday, Mark Ereira, who represents the two estates, accused the council of getting its priorities wrong.

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Ereira told the EADT: “The people here pay in a lot of money through council tax but are not seeing any of it come back.

“We are talking about thousands of people who have been asking their councils and councillors to get something done about these ongoing problems.

“We are being told the council cannot do this - but they can employ a consultant on �650 a day.

“The money we were asking for would have come from the cash collected in the town from parking any way.”

But defending the county’s decision, council leader Jeremy Pembroke said: “There is no connection between the two amounts Mr Ereira refers to, or any issue of choosing between them.

“As I understand it, the �25,000 asked for from the On-Street Parking Fund would have been used not to carry out any work, but simply for a study to be undertaken.

“By contrast, my decision to invest in an interim head of communications was in order to make savings of half a million a year which can be re-invested in frontline services.

“My priority couldn’t be clearer: I want to spend money on our frontline services.

“I must remind Cllr Ereira that Suffolk County Council is one of the two most cost-efficient county councils in the country, having saved an average of �330,000 a week over the last four years.”

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