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'No quick fix' warning as residents highlight town's parking woes

More than three-quarters of survey respondents over parking in Bury St Edmunds have said there is a problem, according to a town councillor – but warnings have been issued that there is no quick fix.

West Suffolk Council’s Conservative administration announced it would begin a review into residents’ permit parking and parking zones before the end of the financial year.

Labour district and town councillor Cliff Waterman told the council’s cabinet meeting on October 6 that a collection of town councillors had sent a questionnaire to residents to find out the extent of problems.

A car parks on the pavement / sidewalk, severely restricting space for pedestrians. (42631850)
A car parks on the pavement / sidewalk, severely restricting space for pedestrians. (42631850)

Of the 110 respondents so far, 77% said there were problems with parking, while 82% of those who said there were problems confirmed they were issues they faced every day, Mr Waterman said.

“I think the picture is clear that for a significant number of people there are significant problems with the permit parking system,” he said.

“This is very much in the context of Covid-19 – more people are parking at home all day.

“Civil parking enforcement has also meant the rules are enforced fairly rigorously so that where people were perhaps getting away with things before they are now getting fined often, so are much more aware of the problem.”

Civil parking enforcement powers changed hands from the police to the district council in April, as police did not have the resources or time to prioritise the issue.

With dedicated parking enforcement officers since the responsibility changed to the authority, enforcement has been more stringent.

Among the suggestions locals have made for solutions are making permit parking 24 hours a day, having vehicle-specific permits or more selective issuing of permits.

Other survey respondents have called for the review to look at maximising parking opportunities and means of ensuring future pressures do not make the problem worse.

Conservative cabinet member for operations Peter Stevens said the review would help encourage residents to request parking zones.

He said: “Any expansion of parking zones and bays is down to the county council for a traffic regulation order.

“But we will look before the next financial year and will be encouraging the residents to engage with us to create some new resident parking zones.

“We can offer annual car parking tickets to nearby off street parks but that is not always the most desirable.

“The problem is with any medieval town with old-fashioned streets that there won’t be enough spaces for residents, especially multi-car families.

“Now we have to consider environmentally friendly transport within our market towns rather than multiple car families expecting car parking spaces in those towns.”

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