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Car parking charges in Bury St Edmunds set to rise in April after West Suffolk Council's cabinet approve plans

Council leaders have this week approved plans to increase parking charges across Bury St Edmunds, despite claims that it will lead to a ‘dead town centre’.

On Tuesday, West Suffolk Council’s cabinet agreed to implement changes to car parking charges across the district,which were proposed by the council’s parking review group last month.

Despite initial proposals to scrap the £1 evening charge and‘free from 3pm’ scheme on Tuesdays, which the council runs in partnership with the Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), the group later recommended that these continue.

West Suffolk House....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (29118078)
West Suffolk House....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (29118078)

From April, parking charges will rise by up to 50 per cent in the town. Among the changes is an increase from £2.70 to £4 to park all day at the Parkway multi-storey car park.

The four-hour rate at the Cattle Market will also go up from £3.50 to £4 while Ram Meadow Car Park’s day rate will increase from £2.30 to £3.

Cllr Diane Hind, Labour group leader, said the changes would have a negative impact on Bury St Edmunds town centre.

“At a time when high streets generally are suffering from decline, everything that can be done to protect ours should be done and a key part of this is easy and cheap parking,” she said. “A dead town centre brings trouble usually and a thriving town centre keeps trouble away.”

Her concerns were echoed by Mark Cordell, BID chief executive, who spoke out against the parking review group’s recommendations in January.

“No-one can be unaware that there is a High Street crisis and 2019 was the worst year recorded for footfall in Bury St Edmunds and the number of empty units is the worst in the nine years I’ve been here,” he said.

“Car parking charges are one of the few things we can influence, It’s a cost we can control and if we don’t, the cost could end up being considerably more.”

But Cllr Peter Stevens, portfolio holder for operations, said parking was ‘just one’ of the issues which impacted a town centre’s success.

“It is not just parking that is going to ensure the health and wealth of our market towns,” he said. “It’s all that the town has to offer and we are continuing to invest in our town centres.”

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