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Bury St Edmunds shop owner Justin Stearn of Far Away Foods hits out at West Suffolk Council over parking fine



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A business owner has accused a council of 'kicking you while you are down' after being hit with a fine while parked up to deliver to his shop.

Justin Stearn received the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) on April 12 while his van was parked in a suspended bay near Faraway Foods in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, during the CityFibre road closure.

He challenged the PCN issued by West Suffolk Council, but the council said it 'found no grounds for the cancellation of the charge'.

Justin Stearn, owner of Far Away Foods in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds
Justin Stearn, owner of Far Away Foods in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds

During the two-month closure of St John's Street to traffic, access was allowed for delivery vehicles only, a CityFibre spokesperson confirmed.

Mr Stearn, 45, described the charge as 'unfair' and accused West Suffolk Council of 'disgraceful' behaviour as they claimed to be helping small independent businesses.

But a spokesperson for the council said it was 'absolutely wrong and misleading' to suggest it was simply issuing fines to people for unloading stock from their vehicles.

Justin Stearn, who owns Far Away Foods in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, says a parking ticket while he parked delivering to his business was 'unfair'
Justin Stearn, who owns Far Away Foods in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, says a parking ticket while he parked delivering to his business was 'unfair'

They claim the enforcement officer agreed with the driver that 30 minutes would be enough to complete unloading and move on, but an hour later the vehicle was still there, 'shutters down' and no unloading was seen to be taking place.

But Mr Stearn, who also owns a shop in Newmarket, says there was no such agreement and claims his van was still being unloaded, with just a few items left.

He said: "They just give you a kick while you are down by giving you a ticket like that. It's not very good."

Justin Stearn, who owns Far Away Foods in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, challenged the Penalty Charge Notice but lost
Justin Stearn, who owns Far Away Foods in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, challenged the Penalty Charge Notice but lost

He believes his takings were 40 per cent down during the road closure - which ran from February 28 to April 24 - but they have since picked up.

He also said no work was taking place in the road at the time he received the PCN, but the council said in a letter even if this is the case, 'the bay must still remain empty for the suspension'.

Mr Stearn said the council 'hadn't given any consideration to how businesses could service their shops'.

The council spokesperson said: "Although the bays were suspended for the works, the council’s Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) officers have taken a pragmatic approach.

"When CPE officers have seen a business is unloading, they talk to them.

"They advise the business that they are fine to carry on so long as the unloading in continuous and the vehicle is then moved."

Mr Stearn said he would probably have to pay the charge, which is £35 if paid by May 17.