A trial cashless pay on exit parking scheme is to be run in a car park in Bury St Edmunds this summer to increase flexibility for shoppers and visitors.
Existing ticket machines will be modified along with new signs at a cost of £10,000 to enable people to ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ in the short stay area of the St Andrews Car Park from June.
It follows calls from Our Bury St Edmunds, which represents town centre businesses, who say that some retailers reported they were missing out on sales as customers said they needed to hurry back to their cars before their parking ran out.
Cllr Susan Glossop, Cabinet Member for Planning and Growth at St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “We recognise that it is a challenging time for many of our local retailers. Town centre footfall, which had been increasing year on year, has dipped slightly. More importantly is the amount that people actually spend in the shops and other town centre businesses. We can’t control whether somebody choses to visit a shop to buy an item as opposed to ordering it online, but we can encourage people to shop local, visit our town centre more often, stay longer and spend more.”
To ‘check in, check out’ people will simply park up, wave their debit or credit card at the contactless pad, type in their vehicle registration and then off they go to shop.
Cllr Peter Stevens, Cabinet Member for Operations said: “We are pleased to be working with Our Bury St Edmunds to trial the check in, check out parking. Collectively we will need to monitor its success in terms of the numbers using it, its impact on congestion and queuing at Saturday lunchtimes when car parking demand is highest, its popularity and its impact on footfall and retail spend. If the trial proves a success we can then look to extend its use to other car parks in Bury St Edmunds and elsewhere in West Suffolk. We will of course continue to offer competitively priced long stay options in our other long stay car parks around the town.”
Garry Easter, chairman of Our Bury St Edmunds and manager of Marks and Spencer in the town said: “We are delighted that we have been able to work with the council to find a solution to how we can deliver a more flexible form of parking. We have heard some anecdotal feedback from businesses that people are leaving shops or cafes and restaurants because they need to get back to their car before their ticket expires. This overcomes that problem and shows the Council’s support at a time when the nature of the high street nationally is going through change and retailers are having to adapt to the challenges ahead.”