Business leader ‘cynical’ over council move to encourage shoppers to stay longer in Bury St Edmunds

Surface Carpark beside Parkway
Surface Carpark beside Parkway
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A business leader say he is cynical about whether a council move to encourage shoppers to stay longer in Bury St Edmunds, will go ahead.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is to consider whether to carry a feasibility study into the possibility of introducing pay on exit parking at the Parkway surface car park.

The move has been suggested as part of a council review of its car park charges, a review which came after a hostile reaction from businesses to a 10 per cent blanket increase to charges in April this year.

The review itself found that 95 per cent of 1,000 people asked, were ‘satisfied’ with the current parking charges. The survery was carried out by parking attendants to save money.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury which represents town centres shops and other businesses, said: “It was a complete disaster earlier this year – the council imposed a 10 per cent rise on car parking without speaking to any businesses and then stood back in complete surprise when we got a bit upset.

“So for them to be speaking to us now is a positive move.

“But I am cynical – the survery was carried out by St Edmundsbury staff so it doesn’t surprise me that the council got the answers they were looking for.

“They haven’t got the money to do a survey, but they have to engage with consultants over pay on exit parking.”

He said he understood council officers were against pay on exit parking even though businesses see it as vital.

The review suggests some car parking charges should go up and some down.

One of those recommended to go down is the costs of a season ticket – which would also be extended to include weekends.

“Town centre workers are shoppers too so this gives them the option to come into town on their day off at no extra cost,” said Cllr David Nettleton who led the review.

He said the survey questions had been put together after independent advice, and said it was good for staff to ‘interact with the public.’

“With pay on exit car parling officers tell us it is a bad idea, businesses tell us it is a good idea, that is why we need it to go to arbitration.

“Personally I am for it.” Cllr Nettleton said.

It would lead to less parking fines but Cllr Nettleton said this was something the council wanted to achieve anyway.

He said officers were concerned it would lead to people spending more than intended, and were also worried the machine could be ram raided.