Three off-street car parks in Bury St Edmunds have raked in more than £8.5 million for the council in the past four years, figures have revealed.
Following a Freedom of Information request by the Bury Free Press, it was shown St Edmundsbury Borough Council has raised £8,653,198 from Ram Meadow, Arc/Cattle Market and Parkway multi-storey car parks since 2010.
A council spokesman said around half the annual income is needed to run the car parks themselves, with the remaining money helping to pay for CCTV coverage in the town and car parks, grounds maintenance and street cleansing.
The council also benefitted from on-street car parks in Bury, receiving £565,000 of their income from Suffolk County Council since 2010.
These funds have been invested in highways projects in Bury including Western Way, signage for residents parking schemes and traffic calming measures.
The council is currently debating introducing a ‘Pay on Exit’ system, which a study commissioned with Our Bury St Edmunds this year recommended could be used in all the town’s larger car parks.
A rise in charges in Shire Hall car park, to £1.80 for up to three hours and £3 all day, from April 2015 has also been recommended by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Independent borough and county councillor Trevor Beckwith said: “Nearly £9 million is a huge amount of money, and the things these profits are being put towards are not the domain of the car.
“I have always maintained the council should charge for car parks only what it needs to maintain them. I don’t think the motorist shouldsubsidise the tax payer.”
President of Bury Chamber of Commerce Andrew Denny said: “Whilst Bury town centre is relatively propserous, that is money which has been taken out of the hands of people who have come into town to spend money, which may have gone into local businesses.
“It is only right that money stays in Bury and goes towards the upkeep of the town.”
Chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Mark Cordell said: “It is a considerable income and I just hope it is being put back into the town.”
While acknowledging the possible increase in council income, Mr Cordell said the BID is keen for Pay on Exit schemes to be implemented in Bury’s car parks.
“Providing greater flexibility for visitors and businesses has to be a good thing,” he said.