Shoppers to quit over 'suicide' parking

SHOPPERS have threatened to go elsewhere over "suicidal" council plans to reduce on-site car parking provision at the Cattle market in Bury St Edmunds.

SHOPPERS have threatened to go elsewhere over "suicidal" council plans to reduce on-site car parking provision at the Cattle market in Bury St Edmunds.

Residents who placed an advertisement concerned about the Cattle Market redevelopment in Bury St Edmunds, have been contacted by people who describe the controversial proposals to cut spaces on the site as "ill conceived madness."

They said shoppers will take their custom to Ipswich and Norwich if parking is not convenient, and warn the new centre will quickly become an "unattractive white elephant".

But officials at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which is masterminding the multi-million pound redevelopment scheme, say building an 800-space underground car park beneath the Cattle Market, which the residents have suggested, would cost too much.

Instead, it is considering either 200 or 400 underground spaces, and converting many of the town's existing long-stay spaces to shorter use to encourage quicker turnover.

Ground-level parking will also be provided at the redeveloped Cattle Market and, although the plot will contain fewer spaces overall, out-of-town sites such as Ram Meadow and the nearby multi-storey, on the Parkway, will still be available to drivers.

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Andrew Varley, chairman of the council's Cattle Market redevelopment working party, said: "The advertisement was, I believe, misleading, especially in its implication that the council was not going to build an underground car park. The small group of activists who placed it should have known very well that the Cattle Market Redevelopment Working Party and the cabinet had recommended this.

"I feel the advertisement was designed to elicit a hostile response to what the council is doing.

"People's concerns are understandable, but they need to be reassured that we are working hard, and have set up a new working party to consider the car parking needs of the borough as a whole."

Anthony Platt, one of the 32-strong group who placed the advertisement, denied it was misleading, and said no plans for underground parking had been finalised when it was published.

He added that many people felt cash earmarked for a new £16m public building on the site would be better spent on ensuring parking was convenient to both the new development and the town centre.

"We were astonished by the immediacy of the responses to the advertisement, and the fact they all seemed to be on the same lines," he said. "The whole development could be a white elephant if people do not come and shop,

"The council is to study the car parking issue further, which we are delighted with, and I do hope they come up with the right conclusion. However, it would be very difficult to find the money if £16m is to be spent on a public building at the site.

"I think the only practical answer is to postpone plans for the public building until there is a verifiable need for it."

Sandra Brennan, from Norton, who responded to the advertisement, said: "If we can't park, we won't come. If central car parking is reduced, then I will probably stop using Bury for weekly shopping altogether. It would be suicide for the town to reduce the number of central car parking spaces."

A final decision on car parking provision is expected later in the spring.

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