Residents asked for their views on parking options in Bury St Edmunds

Residents living in Bury St Edmunds’ 12 parking zones are to be asked for their views on a series of options based upon their earlier feedback and designed to help improve their parking needs.

Many of the town’s existing parking schemes are heavily oversubscribed and West Suffolk is unable to refuse genuine permit applications. Part of the reason for this oversubscription is that many of the homes in Bury St Edmunds town centre were built before the invention of the motor vehicle and others from when car ownership was much lower than it is now. The Council already warns people buying a permit, that it cannot guarantee them a parking space. Alongside this West Suffolk carries out stringent checks to ensure permits and vouchers are not bought by anyone who isn’t a resident.

Since April 2020, the Council has also been responsible for Civil Parking Enforcement, which in effect means residents who had previously not been able to find a space in their parking zone but who previously got away with parking illegally instead, are now being issued with fines.

In an effort to improve the situation, the Council last year appointed 2020 Consultancy to look independently at the issues around the existing Resident Parking Zones (RPZs) in Bury St Edmunds. It carried out an initial questionnaire with residents during 2021 from which it has created a series of options. Residents in the parking zones will now be asked for their views on these before West Suffolk Council decides what to do next.

Cllr Peter Stevens, Cabinet Member for Operations said: “We have every sympathy with these residents and the growing frustration they are feeling. One option that we have asked the company 2020 not to progress was their suggestion that we increase the price of first and second permits. Although our costs may rise depending on what options residents tell us they would like implemented, a cost rise in itself, is not a solution to the issue at hand.”

The options put forward for consultation are:

  • Allowing permit holders to use West Suffolk car parks overnight (between 6pm and 8am) at no extra charge.
  • Extending the operating times of all permit schemes from 8am to 8pm (these currently vary with some operating from 10am to 4pm and some 8am to 6pm) and bring in more evening enforcement.
  • Integrating permit zones where one is heavily subscribed and another less so.
  • Asking Suffolk County Council to review yellow lining with a view to enabling more parking bays.
  • Adding car registration details on permits to counter unauthorised use.
  • Reviewing the issuing of trade permits in zones (charging or limiting the number issued).
  • Limiting the number of second permits a household is allowed to one.
  • Limiting the entitlement to visitor vouchers to a level consistent across each of the town’s RPZs.
  • Making Blue Badge holders liable to pay for their resident permits.
  • Ceasing free permits to residents of pensionable age who do not own a car – but allowing them to buy visitor vouchers instead.

Cllr Stevens said: “It is likely that our long-term strategy will involve a combination of these options. Before we do anything further, however, we want to hear the views of residents so that they may help shape the solution to their parking needs. I would urge residents to keep any eye out for the survey being posted through their doors by the company 2020, and to give their feedback.”