West Suffolk Council to pause introduction of long-planned parking charge increases in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Newmarket
A council has said it will continue to pause a long-delayed rise in parking charges to help communities and businesses during the pandemic.
Concerns were initially raised after notices were issued saying changes to parking charges in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Newmarket would be implemented from April 12, which is around the time shops are expected to reopen.
However, West Suffolk Council said while the law requires notices to include a date, no final decision has been made as to when the new charges will start and the authority’s cabinet will keep the situation under review.
The changes, which include price hikes, were approved last year but delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Bury St Edmunds, they include an increase from £2 to £3 for up to three hours at Parkway multi-storey.
Up to three hours at Ram Meadow will rise from £1.80 to £2.50 and an all day ticket at St Andrew’s long stay will cost £4 compared to the current £3.
The council said that since the pandemic it has kept parking prices either free or at a lower rate and money used from the charges is used to help pay for services as well as maintain car parks, which cost about £1 million in business rates.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, welcomed the decision to pause the introduction of the steeper charges.
“It makes considerable sense to not set a date for implementing the increases as yet because the town remains in lockdown and businesses are struggling,” he said.
“We’re hopeful there will be a reasonable delay before introducing these price increases to allow businesses time to get back on their feet. The decision to not increase prices immediately is a positive message to the customers of our businesses and our local community who I’m confident will return in large numbers.”
Price rises in Haverhill include an increase from £1 to £1.50 for up to three hours at Haverhill Leisure Centre as well as at Lower Downs Slade car park.
At Jubilee Walk car park, up to one hour will rise from 40p to 50p and up to three hours from £1 to £1.50.
Town and District Cllr Aaron Luccarini, who represents Haverhill Central, said: “Although car parks bring in necessary income to fund council services, like CCTV, I’m hopeful that West Suffolk will continue to put price increases on hold to allow shops time to reopen. Trading conditions are already extremely difficult, and retailers need supporting with encouraging people back into the town centre.”
Colin Poole, clerk at Haverhill Town Council, said while price rises are ‘never going to be popular, many visitors from outside of the town express surprise at how low the parking charges are’.
"It is, of course, far less expensive overall to shop local than drive 20 miles to the next town, and shopping local is how the people of Haverhill can support local traders,” he said.
In Newmarket, Church Lane, Grosvenor Yard and All Saints car parks are among those that will see price rises with up to three hours increasing from £1 to £1.50.
Up to two hours at Rous Road car park will rise from 60p to £1.
During the pandemic, the council has introduced measures to improve the availability of parking bays in Brandon and Moreton Hall, in Bury.
It has also progressed plans to improve car parks in Newmarket with All Saints resurfacing complete and improvements to Grosvenor Yard imminent.
Any final decision about when to actually introduce the deferred increases to car parking tariffs will only be made once the exit from lockdown and route to recovery is clearer - John Griffiths
It said it has also been helping businesses access £85 million in business grants and giving advice.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: "While this has cost the council we continue to pause increases to parking charges that were originally approved for implementation in April 2020 to further help our communities and businesses.
"We have also taken the opportunity during the pandemic to bring in changes and improvements to parking which residents have asked for.
"We want to reassure people that whilst we need to go through this legal 'TRO' process, any final decision about when to actually introduce the deferred increases to car parking tariffs will only be made once the exit from lockdown and route to recovery is clearer.
"This will continue to be kept under review and, in the meantime any increases will continue to be deferred."