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Bury St Edmunds free parking initiative provides ‘almost a million spaces’ over last 11 years





An initiative launched in Bury St Edmunds town centre has provided almost a million free parking spaces for visitors - over the last 11 years.

‘Free from 3’ operates in the town’s short stay and on-street car parks on Tuesday afternoons.

The car parks are run by West Suffolk Council and include the arc-Cattlemarket, Angel Hill and Chequer Square, amongst others.

Angel Hill is one of the parking areas which are 'Free After 3' on Tuesdays. Picture: Mark Westley
Angel Hill is one of the parking areas which are 'Free After 3' on Tuesdays. Picture: Mark Westley

Since 2013, it has meant total of 1,635 parking spaces have been made available at no cost, every week, totalling more than 935,000 free spaces over the last 11 years.

The initiative was an idea put forward by Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID) to the then St Edmundsbury Council, which was considered its annual budget.

The council had been reviewing its car parking charges at the time and had commissioned a report which looked at options.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District. Picture: Our Bury St Edmunds
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District. Picture: Our Bury St Edmunds

BID chief executive Mark Cordell said: “Car parking is something that almost everyone has an opinion on. I am delighted that West Suffolk Council has now continued to support the initiative for more than a decade.

“I hear from a number of established BID businesses that Tuesday afternoon has gone from a quiet trading time to one where people will seek appointments knowing that they won’t have to pay to park, which is especially welcome now when the cost of living has risen sharply.”

Gareth Boggis, Abbeygate Cinema general manager, said: “We offer a number of screenings on Tuesday afternoons and evenings because the free parking is a bonus for our audience members.

“Some like to take in a film first at around 5pm and then enjoy a meal in town. Others like to know that they have time to get here for a 7pm screening because they haven’t had to wait until the usual night time tariff begins.”

Cllr David Taylor, West Suffolk’s cabinet member for operations, said: “Councillor David Taylor who is West Suffolk’s Cabinet member for Operations said: “We know that availability of long and short stay, as well as flexible pay on exit parking, all managed through tariffs, is important for the town centre and the local economy and our car parks have been busy with lots of people visiting the towncentre throughout the week.

“Free from 3 was introduced to encourage visitors on what was originally a quieter afternoon in the week.

“West Suffolk Council continues to work strongly with partners including Our Bury St Edmunds to support the sustainable growth of our town centres and it’s great to hear the feedback around the success of this initiative.”

Details about car parks, street parking and tariffs can be found on the Council’s website at www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/parking.

To visit Our Bury St Edmunds, visit www.ourburystedmunds.com.

Our Bury St Edmunds is one of over 300 Business Improvement Districts in the UK. It was established in April 2010 to provide a number of additional services to improve the trading environment of the town centre.