Car park surveys over price hikes

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SURVEYS into how and why people use the car parks in Bury St Edmunds could be used to set future prices.

The suggestion for the surveys, which would be carried out by the council’s own markets and car park staff, follows outcry from businesses over a 10 per cent increase earlier this year.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council agreed to review its charges after a 3,078 name petition was presented at a meeting in March.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury, said at the time: “The problem is that we will not know that the charges have been increased by too much until the number of visitors to the town centre begins to fall.

“It will be much harder to resolve the problem once it has occurred – the council claims to want to help businesses but actions speak louder than words.”

“We do appreciate it’s a tricky time but this is an unimaginative solution to the council’s budget problems – car parking charges were also increased last year and it’s likely the council will raise them again next year.”#

Last year, St Edmundsbury raised £1.3 million through car parks and the latest price increases will generate an extra £150,000.

The council’s own budget survey found half of people in Bury were for increased parking charges and half against.

Now the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, which meets on Wednesday, is setting up meetings with the chamber of commerce and Bid4Bury to get a better understanding of the effects the charges have on businesses. The car park surveys meanwhile are subject to cabinet approval.

“The purpose of this survey will be to obtain the publics view on car parks across the borough, in particular to get a view on the usage, the current tariffs and on how the council should set future years’ charges,” said a report to Wednesday’s meeting.