A retail chief in Bury St Edmunds has called for a council to reinvest some of the millions it makes in car parking into boosting town trade.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury has suggested that cash raised from car parking charges could be used to help get long term empty shops back into use.
He also said that it could be used to subsidise cheaper car parking during quieter periods of the week.
Figures from St Edmundsbury Borough Council show it made a net income of £1,523,131 in 2010/11 and £2,224,850 in 2011/12.
It is expecting to make slightly less in this financial year with an estimate of £2,103,150.
At the same time use of the Bury’s car parks in December was up 5.5 per cent on the year before, and the week start Decevber 17 saw the highest ever level of car park use in Bury with 51,939 sales recorded.
Mr Cordell said the council made most of its car parking income in Bury St Edmunds.
“What about some reimbursement of that money into the town centre?
“Although the town is doing very well, you can’t get away from the fact that we have some high profile empty units in the town.
“The Officer’s Club and Hawkins Bazaar have both been empty for more than a year. The only interest in them is from charity shops.
“Why can’t the council do some work to make the units more appealing?
“I know the council has a hands off approach to these matters but I think they should be a bit more proactive.”
He also suggested the council could provide cheaper car parking on Mondays and Tuesdays which could then be complimented by shop promotions.
“The council will say it would lose income but our argument is that we will actually bring in more people, and boost their income. It is about being more creative and innovative,” he said.
The council is to make its decisions next month over a number of new car parking initiatives including the possible introduction of pay on exit car parking.
A council spokeswoman said the income was not ‘profit,’ as it is all reinvested in services.
Cllr Terry Clements,council Cabinet member for Transport said: “We continue to work with Bid4Bury on the health and prosperity of the town centre, and where we can, directly with local business and property owners.”
- Car parks award see p11.