St Edmundsbury Borough Council set to make £4.5 million from car parking

Ram Meadow car park, Bury St Edmunds.''Picture: Mark Westley.

A council expects to have made £4.5 million from car parking in the last year – despite a fall in the number of tickets bought.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council saw its ‘second most successful year to date’ with 2.73 million car parking transactions in 2017 – down three per cent on 2016, according to a report.

There was a drop in transactions at short stay car parks in Bury St Edmunds, particularly in November and December, and the report notes disruption from roadworks in and around the town last year ‘may have had a knock-on effect’.

However, a ‘significant increase’ in the number of discounted weekly tickets being sold may mean the car parks are being used more than the figures suggest.

The report to the council’s overview and scutiny committee next Wednesday says there were 2.15 million transactions in Bury St Edmunds town centre in 2017 compared to 2.20 million the previous year.

Overall sales of discounted weekly tickets at St Andrew’s, Ram Meadow and Parkway Multi-Storey car parks were up 52 per cent with 20,770 last year against 13,656 in 2016.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), said: “The slight drop in tickets purchased mirrors the slight fall in footfall numbers towards the end of 2017. Like the car parking, 2017 was our second busiest year.

“We’re very pleased to see our concerted effort to encourage local people to save money and use Ram Meadow has been successful.

“The BID are slightly concerned about the change around visitor numbers towards the end of 2017 and, with the closure of some large units in the town, it’s making us aware of the need to review what the town centre has to offer. Value for money car parking is a key factor when attracting people to come to our town.”

A council spokesman said the majority of the income was spent on car park running costs.

He said the money was also reinvested in improvement works and in the past 12 months included surfacing, upgrades to ticket machines to cashless payment and electric charging points for electric vehicles.

Some of the income was being ‘used to explore options for a new car park’ to meet growing demand.

Asked whether the council is planning to increase charges, he added: “While we cannot rule out future changes to our car parking charges, there are no proposals at present to change the charges.”

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