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West Suffolk Council hands out more than 42,000 parking tickets including in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Haverhill

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More than 42,000 parking tickets have been issued by West Suffolk Council since taking on enforcement powers two years ago in what is being hailed as ‘a positive’ for residents.

The local authority handed out 24,427 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for illegal parking in the 2021/2022 financial year and 18,052 for the previous year, according to statistics obtained by SuffolkNews using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, showing the car park. Picture: Mark Westley
Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, showing the car park. Picture: Mark Westley

The top 10 parking ticket ‘hotspots’ for the last financial year were:

  • St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds: 775
  • Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds: 740
  • Angel Hill Car Park, Bury St Edmunds: 624
  • Guineas Multi Storey Car Park: Newmarket 599
  • Rous Road Car Park, Newmarket: 598
  • Whiting Street, Bury St Edmunds: 554
  • St Andrew’s Street South, Bury St Edmunds 446

Reasons for the parking violations include vehicles being ‘parked without clear display’, being ‘parked longer than permitted’ and being ‘parked in a residents’ place’.

St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds (57226302)
St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds (57226302)

West Suffolk Council took on civil parking enforcement (CPE) from April 6, 2020, which gave it powers to deal with roadside parking offences, whereas previously this was managed by the police.

Up until then the council only enforced its own car parks and residential parking bays under the Road Traffic Regulation Act.

Councillor Jo Rayner, whose Abbeygate ward in Bury includes Angel Hill, Guildhall Street and St John’s Street, said: “Some of the streets in the [medieval] grid are very narrow and if you get people parked where they shouldn’t it can be dangerous and hinders emergency services getting through.

“People who get parking tickets are obviously very unhappy about it, but the rules are there for a reason and we don’t necessarily see it at the time.

“I think it’s a positive. I’m pleased the residents have seen it as a positive as well and have seen the positive impact as well.”

Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

The Churchgate Area Association, which represents residents and businesses in the medieval grid area of Bury, including Guildhall Street, had called for greater enforcement of illegal parking in the past.

Its chairman Vivien Gainsborough Foot said it used to be a ‘wild west’, but parking violations had been ‘tamed’.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant for the centre of town. There’s no question about it,” she said.

“People were parking on the corners, people were parking on double yellows.

“There was an absolute free-for-all before and there was some very dangerous parking too.

“Obviously a huge number of motorists are very unhappy about it, but from the point of view of the area and the residents, we are absolutely delighted and it’s been a huge success.

“Every time I see a CEO [civil enforcement officer] I always thank them. They have done a really good job and we are delighted about it.”

Vivien Gainsborough Foot, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association in Bury St Edmunds
Vivien Gainsborough Foot, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association in Bury St Edmunds

She said people parking in residents’ spaces without a permit had also been a problem.

The FOI information also revealed the council had made £527,711 for 2021 and £730,471 for 2022 from the PCNs.

The draft costs for administering CPE were £568,071.70 for 2021-2022, showing the council is making money. Employment was the biggest chunk at £479,434.71.

The council currently employs 17 CPE officers who cover the West Suffolk area only.

Councillor Cliff Waterman
Councillor Cliff Waterman

Councillor Cliff Waterman, who represents Eastgate in Bury and is part of the Labour Group, said he was ‘really glad’ parking rules were being enforced - and he thinks residents are happy too - but sometimes people accuse the council of not being responsive to issues they raise.

He mentioned the residential parking permit review in the town, which has been criticised by some in terms of the options put forward to help solve the problem of oversubscribed permit parking schemes.

But Mrs Rayner, a Conservative councillor, said people’s views were being listened to and taken into account.

She said the residential parking zones review was ongoing work, which would hopefully mean spaces are used more effectively so ‘making better use of what we have got’.

Councillor Jo Rayner, a ward member for Abbeygate in Bury St Edmunds
Councillor Jo Rayner, a ward member for Abbeygate in Bury St Edmunds

Councillor Peter Stevens, cabinet member for operations at West Suffolk Council, said: “Civil Parking Enforcement supports our communities and businesses by tackling the issues caused by a minority of motorists whose inconsiderate or dangerous parking leads to accidents, causes congestion and pollution as well as stopping emergency vehicles getting through."

It also provides a turnover of parking spaces, as well as ensuring unloading spaces outside businesses can be used fairly and for their proper use, he said.

He also advised drivers to always check their ticket is clearly displayed. For Angel Hill alone, 512 PCNs were issued for vehicles parked without clear display.

Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds
Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds

Haverhill features only once in the top 10 ticketing hotspots, but the full data set for 2021/22 reveals there were 450 PCNs issued for Lower Down Slade Car Park, 378 for the High Street and 344 for Jubilee Walk Car Park. Queen Street saw only seven issued.

Independent councillor John Burns, who represents the Haverhill East ward, said: "They [the figures] are exactly what I expect in terms of them concentrating on the car parks.

"My view is the monitoring of the High Street and Queen Street is poor compared to the monitoring of the car parks."

He said it was a 'free-for-all' in the High Street and Queen Street when they open to traffic after 4pm.

A spokesperson for West Suffolk Council said CPE officers carry out daily patrols in Haverhill, but could not provide more information on their deployment.