Has Bury St Edmunds become a victim of its own success? Along with businesses and those who work in the town centre, I am thrilled our town has flourished. But how much further can Bury grow before its creaking infrastructure collapses under the pressure?
On Saturday I was invited into town for an impromptu lunch. I didn’t have time to walk in so headed for the multi-storey car park, confident I’d get a space. After all, it’s the middle of February, the car parking pressures of Christmas and sales should be long gone.
Heading in from the Tayfen end of town I drove up Parkway, having been informed by the electronic signs that 46 spaces were free. While sitting at the traffic lights near Cineworld I noticed an all-too familiar sight – the ‘car park full’ barrier blocking the entrance to the multi-storey and Parkway surface car parks.
Feeling slightly frustrated, I opted to drive straight back down Parkway and go instead to the St Andrew’s Street site, which had been showing 50 spaces on my way past. Alas, while stopped again at the Cineworld pedestrian crossing on the other side of the road, I noticed the ‘car park full’ barrier had been moved aside, but I was no longer in a position to access the car park. Cue a frantic dash down Parkway, back up again, and back part-way down to get into the car park before the barrier was pulled across again. Eventually I found a space on level 11 and sprinted to Wagamama for my lunch date. This experience is not isolated. Mummy Berriman uses the multi-storey car park almost daily as she works in town. She used to be guaranteed a spot on level five whenever she started work. Now, if she has a late shift and starts at 11.30am, she either finds herself on the top deck or relegated to the surface car park. She says the problem has worsened since residents’ parking restrictions were enforced in the Spring Lane/Grove Road areas.
The days the multi-storey stood virtually empty are long gone. However, if workers and shoppers cannot park easily at what should be a relatively quiet time of year, what impression does that give to the visitors we want to entice to Bury?