COUNCIL leaders have pledged to review a 10 per cent increase in the town’s car parking charges.
The latest increases, set to come into effect in Bury St Edmunds on April 1, were approved by St Edmunsbury Borough Council on Tuesday.
However, following the presentation of a 3,078- signature petition, council leaders promised the town’s concerned businesses that they would review the increases in June or July.
Council leader John Griffiths said: “We are always happy to review things and given all the concerns we have heard we are more than happy to do this.
“We will review parking charges in Bury St Edmunds and throughout the borough with residents and businesses to make sure we have got things right.”
The petition was presented to the council by Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury and Andrew Denny, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Cordell said: “Only time will tell whether this is a cynical political gesture to pacify the businesses we represent and those independent-thinking councillors who were present last night or whether it’s a genuine change of direction on behalf of the council to work more closely with local businesses who can contribute so much to the town.
“The council has previously made no attempt to evaluate the effect of the annual rises other than in regard to the number of people using the car parks. If they wish to do so on this occasion we would want to contribute to how this could be accurately measured.”
The announcement of the council’s plans to implement the increase sparked an outcry from local shops and businesses.
Businesses were particularly worried that the increases would lead to a reduction in people travelling to shop in the town.
Andrew Denny, chairman of the chamber of commerce, said: “I’m delighted about the announcement of the review. It’s a shame that the council was not able to keep parking charges frozen for this year but I’m glad they have listened to the voices of the people and businesses.
“It was fantastic that we were able to collect so many signatures in only 10 days.
“My concern is that the strength of public feeling about the price increases demonstrates what the chamber of commerce has been saying that although the increases are only 10 per cent they will have a disproportionate effect on shopping habits.”
Last year, St Edmundsbury raised £1.3 million through car parks and the latest price increases will generate an extra £150,000.