Major changes to car parking in Bury St Edmunds to deal with a shortfall of 100 spaces have received a mixed verdict from business and community figures.
Plans to deal with the problem in the short term include moving long stay parking at weekends from Parkway multi-storey to Ram Meadow, which is underused, and some increases in charges.
Meanwhile, St Edmundsbury Borough Council has been urged to carry out a review in the next two years to identify sites for extra parking as at least 500 new spaces will be needed within 10 years.
The authority’s overview and scrutiny committee will on Wednesday discuss the recommendations made by a task and finish group which was set up to look at parking issues.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of town centre improvement group OurBuryStEdmunds, said there were some pros and cons but overall the plans were ‘acceptable to its businesses and town centre users’.
As part of the proposals, there would be increased charges at St Andrews and Parkway Surface car parks.
The daily tariff, weekly and season ticket at Parkway multi-storey would also go up to ‘manage demand and promote’ Ram Meadow, which would see no increase in charges.
Mr Cordell said: “The proposed increased tarrifs although disappointing are not excessive and if this leads to maintaining the high standard of parking facilities in the town then that’s good.”
Parking at Parkway multi-storey would be limited to a four hour maximum at weekends, with the exemption of weekly and season ticket holders.
Ram Meadow, which usually has about 300 spaces spare at weekends, would be rebranded as the visitor and long stay car park.
The task and finish group advised the council to hold off on introducing pay on exit parking until occupancy levels at town centre car parks fall. Mr Cordell, who has called for pay on exit, said he is pleased the initiative ‘still remains on the table’.
Cllr David Nettleton said: “I don’t accept the argument that we’re short of spaces - we’ve just got too many cars so you manage the cars by tarrif.”
Cllr Diane Hind, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, said: “It is very important to find the right balance between car parking capacity and charges to maintain the vitality of the town.” She said increasing charges are ‘not a foregone conclusion’ but is an issue they will consider ‘very carefully’ before making recommendations to the council’s cabinet.