Councillors have criticised West Suffolk College for failing to discuss its impact on town centre parking.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council had commissioned independent consultants to review the town’s parking facilities and had a review group looking into what was needed.
But review group member Cllr Paul Hopfensperger told last night’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee the number of students using the Parkway Multistorey meant they asked for a meeting with the college ‘which never happened’.
He added: “It’s imperative West Suffolk College build their own multistorey.
“That would free up spaces in our multistorey.”
Darren Dixon, carparks manager, said: “We tried to engage with them several times to no avail.
“West Suffolk College needs to start looking at its own carparking issues. They’ve got increasing numbers of students there.”
The consultants had reported that there was already a 100 space shortfall in the Parkway carparks at weekends and about 500 more spaces would be needed in the next 10 years.
Review group chairman Cllr Jim Thorndyke told the committee: “We need to set up a review to find more parking because, very shortly, we’re going to run out. We need to find out now.”
Mr Dixon said the consultants had found that while people were queueing for the Parkway carparks at weekends, with all three often at capacity for the peak three hours on Saturdays, Ram Meadow had about 300 spaces available.
The recommendation was to limit stays in the multistorey at weekends to three hours and raise prices in the Parkway carparks to encourage people to use others.
But he said people using the Multistorey to work at weekends would not be affected if they used season tickets.
However, Cllrs Hopfensperger, Susan Glossop and Richard Rout were concerned that pushing more cars towards Ram Meadow would worsen congestion in already busy streets approaching that carpark.
Mr Dixon admitted: “We need to identify how we can move cars round that part of town. There is also the issue of encouraging people to use public transport.”
On pay-on-exit in the Parkway ground level carpark, Mr Dixon said it ‘would not improve things’.
“It encourages people to stay longer,” he said. “It would produce an impact on all other carparks. If there are no spaces in the carpark, you have cars waiting to go through the barrier.”
Cllr Andrew Speed urged the council not to abandon pay-on-exit and called for a trial, but Mr Dixon said the cost of equipment and staffing meant that would cost about £200,000. Cllr Thorndyke suggested looking at it for a new carpark.
Stephen Jones, West Suffolk College vice principal finance and resources, said the college continuously works with the council on issues including parking.
He added: “We are struggling to understand the context of these comments. Car parking is clearly an issue for the college and the whole community and one that we have been addressing for some time.
”In light of these comments we will be contacting the Council and naturally we will continue to work with them.”