Former council leader and RAF veteran to fight Bury St Edmunds residents' parking ticket battle in court
“This is for everybody in this area as everybody is up in arms about it.”
That is the defiant call of one Bury St Edmunds resident set to fight his case in court after falling foul of West Suffolk Council’s town centre resident parking enforcement.
Former St Edmundsbury Borough Council leader and RAF veteran Mike Brundle lives in Guildhall Street, within resident parking zone D.
It is an area heavily over-subscribed for resident car parking, with West Suffolk Council admitting it issued more permits than spaces.
During lockdown last year Mr Brundle, 74, regularly struggled to find a vacant space and instead parked either in a pay and display area of the street or on single yellow lines, which are marked as available for parking after 6pm.
“I don’t expect, living in the town centre, to park outside my door. But when I do pay for a permit I expect a fair crack. In Zone D they are selling four times the number of permits than there are spaces,” said Mr Brundle, who served on the borough council for 14 years.
“Most of the single yellow lines in Bury you can park on after 6pm, so what’s the problem with, during a lockdown, being able to park on them during the day?”
He said while the council had allowed permit-holding residents to use town centre car parks it was too far for him to walk from the Cattle Market or Ram Meadow, especially when using his walking stick. On receiving his first few penalty tickets he appealed to the council, which took over parking enforcement powers last April, before deciding to let the battle go to court.
Now, he has been summonsed to the county court next month over three unpaid fines. He expects to receive more and hopes to be successful pleading his case.
“I spent 27 years in the services and 14 years on the borough council. Now I am off to court to defend my right to park my vehicle,” said Mr Brundle.
“I am not paying anything. I want the whole thing thrown out.
“All I want is a better Bury. I’m not asking for the world.”
“I thought I’m not going to put up with this. After the first few tickets I wrote to the council and said ‘you need to allocate better provision for this’.
“We have got a council that seems to be inept at looking after taxpayers and instead looks after shoppers, who should be directed towards the car parks.”
Mr Brundle, who has lived in Guildhall Street for five years, said the problem was nowhere near as bad before the council took on parking enforcement last year.
“Some people were parking where they shouldn’t but not causing a danger. The police carried out enforcement with a bit more common sense.”
Cllr Peter Stevens, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for operations, said: “While we will not comment on the individual court case, we do recognise this as one of the challenges of living in Bury’s historic core where many homes predate the invention of the car and many others were built when car ownership was much lower. Now they are heavily oversubscribed and we are unable to refuse valid applications from residents, which are thoroughly checked.
“We always advise that buying a permit doesn’t guarantee a space. It isn’t a problem that can be easily fixed although a review is due to start before the end of March.”
- Mr Brundle believes up to 50 additional resident parking spaces could safely be created across or near Zone D – including in nearby St Andrew's Street South.
There, the majority of the road is single yellow-lines, apart from two parking spaces and a no stopping area near the now-closed St Louis' Middle School.
Mr Brundle said: "There is all this space and just two parking spaces. There are all these single yellow lines you can park on after 6pm, but why not allow parking during the day? Especially during a lockdown when pressure on resident spaces is even higher."
Vivien Gainsborough Foot, chairman of the Churchgate Residents’ Association, said an additional 30 resident spaces had been agreed with the council some time ago and should be created at some point. Meanwhile,parking signage across the zone would also be standardised.
"The signs in Westgate Street are totally different to the ones in Guildhall Street," she said.
"We are also pushing for all of Guildhall Street to be resident parking, rather than the way it is now, and for 17 permits issued to Angel Hill, Abbeygate Street, The Traverse and Buttermarket residents to be removed. They are not living in the grid yet they are allowed to park in the grid."