Fears parking fines will drive customers away

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INTRODUCING parking restrictions on Moreton Hall could make trips to the dentist more painful and beauty treatments less relaxing, with customers at risk of receiving £30 fines.

Staff at some businesses in Lawson Place have hit out at St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s proposal to issue excess parking charges to car park users who stay longer than three hours, saying it could drive customers away.

Susan Trowles, senior beauty therapist at Stephen John Hair, said the council should allow four hours free parking to enable its customers adequate time for a cut and colour.

Carrie Day, a trainee dental nurse at Just Smile Dental Practice, said: “I think four hours free would be better because some treatments we offer can take up to three hours, and they still need time to pay and walk to their cars.”

The council is hoping that restrictions between 8am-6pm Monday-Friday will prevent motorists from using Lawson Place as a free long-stay car park and either catching a bus or car sharing into the town.

It is expected staff would be encouraged to park for free at the old community centre site in Heldhaw Road.

But Peter Knights, practice manager at Mount Farm Surgery, said this would be ‘unworkable’.

“It would be a free-for-all, people would be clambering for the free spaces,” he said, adding, “I don’t think they will solve any problem, they’ll just compress the problem into a smaller area.”

Georgina Barnes, landlady of the Moreton Hall pub, said she had ‘mixed emotions’ about the proposal.

She has hired a private firm to manage the pub car park, blaming parking congestion there for a drop in her elderly custom.

“A lot of people parking here aren’t using these facilities so from that point of view it will be a good thing but I think it’s going to drive more people into parking in my car park and that will cause bad feeling because they’ll get a £60 fine,” she said.

Jessica Darnell, joint owner of The Coffee House, said she favoured the proposal, having previously lost custom over issues with parking.

She said: “I think it’s a good idea - three hours is plenty of time for people to be using local businesses and it’s something that will help us a lot.”

The proposal, recommended for approval, will be discussed by cabinet on Wednesday.