Concerns at council car park snack plan

BUSINESS leaders and residents say council plans to install vending machines in Bury St Edmunds town centre will hit trade and add to litter.

The Bury Free Press revealed last week how St Edmundsbury Borough Council plans to install seven vending machines selling hot and cold drinks and snacks, in the arc car parks, the Parkway multi-storey car park, and at the bus station.

The council will receive a ‘significant’ rent in return.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of town centre traders group Bid4Bury, said he was disappointed not to have been consulted.

“As the council frequently state they are a supporter of local businesses I was somewhat surprised to hear that they are looking to sell food and drink in direct opposition to local traders, but I was particularly saddened to only find out about this initiative by reading the Bury Free Press,” he said.

Andrew Hunter, who runs the Hunter Club, said the machines would be ‘in direct competition with our cafés and shops’ and could lead to empty units and unemployment.

“Visitors don’t have unlimited budgets or appetites and the machines are to be placed to catch the spending before visitors step into the town centre,” he said.

Town centre resident Gerald Woods said it would add to a problem of litter in the car parks.

And at Tuesday night’s full council meeting, Cllr David Nettleton, asked if there would be more litter bins and if they would be emptied more frequently.

But Cllr David Ray, the portfolio holder responsible for the move, said: “You make a good point. “Vending machines will generate, like it or not, more litter. I haven’t got the answer for you but we will take appropriate action.”