Business in Bury St Edmunds accuse council of failing to understand impact of parking changes

The multi storey car park in Bury St Edmunds.
The multi storey car park in Bury St Edmunds.

A council has again been accused of failing to understand businesses after it reduced the length of short stay parking in Bury St Edmunds.

The Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting saw members tell their concerns to Ian Gallin, joint chief executive of St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Councils.

Mark Daly from Greene and Greene said short stay car parking used to be up for four hours. It changed last month to a maximum of three hours.

“You tell people you understand the issues but you take it away with the other hand,” Mr Daly told Thursday’s meeting.

He said three hours did not give enough time for ‘business to reap the benefits’ and warned it could lead to some shops having to close.

Solicitor Nigel George, said: “Bury has lots of restaurants and lots of shops.

“If you only get three hours to park you have got to choose between the two. You cannot have a meal and do your shopping.”

He said that pushed more shoppers to supermarkets where they can park for free.

Chrissy Harrod backed calls for Pay on Exit parking.

She said: “Businesses are being effected because people are rushing back to their cars because they only put two hours car parking on it.

“Independent businesses rely on dwell time. One of the little shops in St Johns Street – they wouldn’t be the reason you come to town but if you have got some time left on your parking you might think ‘I’ll go down there’.”

And Mark Cordell chief executive of Bid4Bury said the council’s previous strategy had been about turnover of spaces to generate more income – but at the expense of the shops. He hopes that is now changing.

Mr Gallin said: “It is always a difficult contensious subject. I don’t think I have ever struck it 100 per cent succesful. It is just one of those area that we have to try to find the right balance.”

He said the charges are needed to manage car parks, that car park usage is going up, and the council is looking into pay on exit parking.