Debate for more flexible parking in town centre

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A GROUP, which represents the interests of town centre businesses, is calling for more flexible parking in Bury St Edmunds.

Bid4Bury is to discuss the merits of a pay-on-exit car parking scheme for the town with St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

Bosses will also outline their desire for motorists to receive free on-street parking for the first 30 minutes of their stay, which would replicate a system in Newmarket.

The move comes after a meeting between Bid4Bury chief executive Mark Cordell, chairman Andrew Speed, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s chief executive Geoff Rivers and Cllr Robert Everitt, who chairs the Bury area working party.

Mr Cordell said: “At the moment, if you park in the car park, you have to buy a ticket and pay and display.

“From a business perspective it isn’t the best scheme to get people to stay longer.

“To be fair to the council they have introduced the ability to extend your stay by mobile phone but from our perspective the most flexible arrangement is to pay when you leave.

“We raised this with Geoff. He hasn’t made any promises but he has suggested we open dialogue on this subject with the relevant officer which we will be doing. That’s what our businesses say they want us to do.”

During the meeting, they also looked at how the organisation and council can collaborate to provide more awareness and information about business rates.

They discussed the idea of producing a ‘welcome pack’ which would cover issues such as business rates, rate rebates and rent assistance.

It follows the plight of businesswoman Charlotte West, who is being forced to close her shop Millie, in the Buttermarket, after the Valuation Office Agency increased her rates from £1,200 to £2,500 a month.

Mr Cordell added: “We also talked about working closer together in promoting the town from a tourism perspective.

“It was a productive meeting. We were all singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of the benefits of us working closely with the borough council.”