Business and community leaders have hit out at the level of consultation by council bosses over a decision to hike parking charges in Bury St Edmunds town centre.
Suffolk County Council is increasing day-time charges on Angel Hill, Cornhill/Buttermarket as well as in streets in the south of the town centre from April 22 to ease traffic congestion.
A hike was planned last year but was put on hold after concerns by businesses and councillors - with some under the impression there would be further discussions before the charges were imposed next month.
In the biggest increase, on-street parking in areas such as Churchgate St, Whiting St and Hatter St has shot up by nearly 30 per cent from £1.70 to £2.20.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of town centre improvement group ourburystedmunds, said he ‘could not see the justification’ for such an increase and noted that when prices were frozen there were no traffic management problems.
He said: “I’m very disappointed they’re going to come into effect. With so much good news about Bury at the moment it’s a shame this decision has been taken that may deter people from the town.”
On the consultation issue, Mr Cordell said: “I was party to discussions on December which were cordial and positive and had anticipated further discussions before these increases were announced but that wasn’t forthcoming.”
He added that businesses appreciated the decision not to increase charges last year.
County and Borough Cllr David Nettleton said: “I’m under the impression we were due further consultation that never took place.”
Noting St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s off-street car parks, he said: “The charges are not compatible with the borough.
“They’re a bit odd anyway particularly the one hour - 50 pence is a bit steep for one hour.”
Cllr Graham Newman, cabinet member for roads and transport, said it was agreed in December that the increase would be put off until April when the borough council raises its charges.
He said: “There’s been a longstanding arrangement that we will keep our charges broadly in step (with St Edmundsbury).”
Cllr Newman added they were looking to reduce the amount of traffic circulating in the town centre and money raised could fund projects in Bury St Edmunds.
Day-time increases planned
Angel Hill, upto 30 mins - increasing from £1.40 to £1.50, one hour - stays at £2.20 and two hours - from £3.30 to £3.50.
Cornhill and Buttermarket, 30 mins - increasing from £1.40 to £1.50 and one hour - from £2 to £2.20.
South town centre on-street parking areas, 30 mins - increasing from 80p to £1, one hour - from £1.70 to £2.20 and two hours - from £3.30 to £3.50.