New car parking charges across West Suffolk are to come into effect next month.
It is the first parking tariff increases in five years after West Suffolk Council suspended the new changes from April 2020.
But with the lifting of restrictions on May 17 to support the reopening of leisure and hospitality alongside retail and the need for income to pay for town centre services, the new charges will now come into effect from July 5.
Peter Stevens, cabinet member for Operations at the council, said: “These are the first increases in five years, and in some of our Newmarket car parks, they are the first in nine years. This is despite rising costs associated with maintaining and running car parks including resurfacing costs, and around £1m per year in Business Rates that the council pays. We also have plans to invest further in parking infrastructure including more electric charging points and better signage.”
The changes which aren’t just about tariffs increases, were agreed following a review of car parking in late 2019 and early 2020.
The council suspended implementing them and has been working to support local partners including Business Improvement Districts and town councils in their plans for town centre economic recovery.
It has also upgraded All Saints and Grosvenor Yard Car Parks in Newmarket, provide parking machines in Moreton Hall and Brandon, and have supported the MHCLG free permit scheme for health and care workers.
In Newmarket the use of town centre car parks has already returned to levels close to what they were in 2019 with Haverhill not far behind. In Bury St Edmunds meanwhile, the Bury St Edmunds BID has reported footfall nearly up to pre-pandemic levels and new businesses have been quick to fill many of the empty units.
Wil Bryant, chairman of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, said: “The BID has worked closely with West Suffolk Council since the onset of Covid and are extremely appreciative with how quickly they administered government financial support to ensure this money reached our members as soon as possible.
“The council had planned to increase car parking costs earlier. We worked with the council, campaigning on our businesses behalf to get the rises put back as long as possible to allow businesses the time to reopen after an extremely tough year. We at the BID recognise that delaying these increases, to support businesses, have impacted on council revenues, and while we would clearly prefer for the prices to be going in the opposite direction, we do appreciate the council’s position.”