PARKING restrictions are to be brought in at two estate car parks in Bury St Edmunds following a meeting this week.
The Bury Area Working Party heard on Monday how some people are using Lawson Place car park on Moreton Hall as a free long-stay car park and either then catching a bus or car sharing into the town.
A similar problem is thought to be happening at the Southgate Community Centre, with people using the car park as a way of avoiding having to pay for parking at West Suffolk Hospital.
“Our own evidence is that these car parks are full at certain times,” Ivan Sams, the council’s head of property and engineering services, told Monday’s meeting.
Councillors on the working party agreed to introduce free parking for three hours – after which people will get excess charge notices of £30.
However not all were happy with the idea.
“While I like the scheme in principle I don’t like the detail of it,” said Cllr David Nettleton.
Cllr Nettleton, who is currently heading up a review of the council’s car parks, said he was against free parking – instead he wanted the council to charge a fee for parking, to cover the costs of managing the car parks.
“I’m a firm believer in the idea that the user pays,” he said.
But Moreton Hall councillor Trevor Beckwith said any charges could lead to more people parking in residential areas.
“If you start to get displaced car parking in residential areas – that would be a complete disaster because there are so few parking spaces anyway,” he said.
Fellow Moreton Hall representative Terry Buckle questioned the need for the first three hours to be free – he said it should be a maximum of an hour.
But Mr Sams and working party chairman Cllr Robert Everitt said it was to give time to people who might be using the community centres, visiting the pub or going to the hairdressers.
“Three hours is the sensible option. It gives everybody that breathing space,” said Cllr Everitt.
The scheme will be reviewed after a year to see what impact it has had.