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Call for better communication as Bury St Edmunds residential parking review gets under way

Bury St Edmunds town centre residents hoping for improvements to on-street parking fear they are being kept in the dark about a review currently under way.

West Suffolk Council has charged the independent 2020 Consultancy with conducting a comprehensive review of resident car parking in the town, following the council’s adoption of civil parking enforcement in April 2020.

On-street resident car parking is heavily over-subscribed – with more than 450 permits issued for the 125 spaces in Zone D, for example – however West Suffolk Council does not have authority under the existing scheme to refuse valid applications.

A permit parking review is under way in Bury St Edmunds
A permit parking review is under way in Bury St Edmunds

2020 Consultancy has been asked to develop and consult on options which could improve the situation.

It is in the process of surveying usage and asking residents, businesses and stakeholders how the scheme is working and what improvements could be made.

A report will be presented to the council in the autumn.

But Rowland Smith, of Well Street, fears residents are not being kept informed about the review, after he discovered virtual workshops aimed at giving stakeholders the chance to discuss parking issues in greater detail were cancelled due to lack of interest.

“I suspect all residents are interested, but have clearly not made the list of ‘stakeholders’ provided by West Suffolk Council. Personally I view all residents as stakeholders and find it strange that at the very least representative from the various town residents’ associations would not have been notified or included,” said Rowland.

Rowland Smith
Rowland Smith

“The council doesn’t seem to have made much of an effort to communicate it at all. Most people have no idea what’s going on."

He added that while he had put forward several potential solutions – including changing permit hours, encouraging smaller vehicles and utilising public car parks – he feared no action would be taken whatever the consultation report suggested.

“The reality is that nothing has happened with permit parking for a long time. Now, having promised to do something, the council has realised it doesn’t have any ideas and has passed the manacle on to the shoulders of the consultants," said Rowland.

Vivien Gainsborough Foot, of the Churchgate Area Association, said: “The time for talking is long, long past. We have been pushing for this for years. Think about all the extra pollution of people driving round and round the grid looking for a space.

Vivien Gainsborough Foot
Vivien Gainsborough Foot

“People are going to say the same things in this review as previous ones, but nothing changes.”

She said a park and ride – potentially based on Suffolk Business Park – could help to ease the problem.

A spokesperson for West Suffolk Council said it would pick up the concerns with 2020 Consultancy.

Residents can take part in the survey at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/residentsparking while paper copies are available on 02393 432756.

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