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Bury St Edmunds parking petition launched over council plans to axe 'Free from 3pm' scheme and increase charges

A petition has been launched calling for free parking two days a week in Bury St Edmunds after a council revealed plans to axe a scheme and increase charges.

West Suffolk Council's parking review group has recommended that Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District's 'free from 3pm' scheme should be scrapped.

It also suggested parking charges be hiked across the town to generate more than £300,000 in extra income.

Cattle Market car park in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Cattle Market car park in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

Under the council's plans, the £1 evening charge would no longer apply and the normal tariff would instead be extended to 8pm.

In response, 'We Love Bury St Edmunds!' started a change.org petition proposing two days of free parking in all car parks including Wednesday for the town's market.

The petition said: "In these times of struggling high streets, with pressure being put upon local businesses of high business rates (as set by central government), and high rents, increasing charges for parking would be detrimental to the businesses and success of the town.

"We want Bury St Edmunds and its businesses to become more successful and stronger because we believe in what we have and do not wish to lose it."

The review group's recommendations will be discussed by the council's overview and scrutiny committee next Thursday with cabinet having the final say when it meets on February 11.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, tweeted: "A very disappointiing report with no consideration for the impact upon businesses or their customers.

"All about raising funds for the council.

"Having said that I am confident that the members of the overview and scrutiny committee and the council cabinet will see ‘the bigger picture’."

Yesterday, Cllr David Nettleton, overview and scrutiny committee chairman, said the discontinuation of the 'Free from 3pm' scheme would save the council around £80,000.

"The 'free from 3pm' scheme doesn't draw any more people to the town," he said.

"We get fewer people on a Tuesday morning as a result so while there is more footfall in the afternoon, it doesn't actually make a difference."

To view the petition, click here.

  • See tomorrow's Bury Free Press newspaper for more details and reaction to the plans.