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'It's ridiculous' - long queues at Bury St Edmunds 'pay on exit' car park

PUBLISHED: 14:39 07 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:39 07 September 2019

Shoppers in Bury St Edmunds are becoming fed up of the difficulties in using the 'pay on exit' car park Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

Shoppers in Bury St Edmunds are becoming fed up of the difficulties in using the 'pay on exit' car park Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

MARIAM GHAEMI

Shoppers in Bury St Edmunds have vented their frustration over the trial of 'pay on exit' at a central car park.

There were also queues at the pay on exit machine near Wilko Picture: MARIAM GHAEMIThere were also queues at the pay on exit machine near Wilko Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

Half of the parking machines at the St Andrews short stay car park were not working today leading to long queues at the two available.

This car park is being used by West Suffolk Council for the trial of 'pay on exit', to give people the option to pay when they leave, rather than having to rush back to their vehicle.

READ MORE: Is there really demand for 'pay on exit' parking in Bury St Edmunds?

But the Flexi-Park trial has been plagued by problems, with today's - an apparent loss of network connection at the machines - just the latest.

James Loker-Steele, from the town, said: "It's ridiculous and very frustrating. They should have invested in ANPR (automatic number plate recognition)."

And Llewellyn Wakeling, from Stanton, added: "They should have done the trial at a smaller car park and they should have had more machines."

People had to queue at the machines to both 'check in' to the car park and 'check out' when they were leaving.

Mr Loker-Steele said he had been forced to pay more for parking there in the past due to the time it took to get through the queue.

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In the past West Suffolk Council said it was working to address issues over the scheme, which was launched at the St Andrews car park in the last week of June.

Speaking at the end of July, Peter Stevens, cabinet member for operations at West Suffolk Council, said: "We are aware that Flexi-Park has presented a change to users and there have been some technical issues which we have worked to address.

"We are listening to customer feedback, we have improved the machine instructions and we will be installing an additional check out machine in the next week or so help alleviate the problem with queuing."

But the additional check out machine did not appear to be working today.

Mr Stevens added that the council has explored using a camera or barrier based system during the 'pay on exit' trial, but barriers were costly to install and manage and the council would not be able to enforce parking using evidence from the ANPR cameras.

'Pay on exit' parking has long been a goal of the town's Business Improvement District Group, Ourburystedmunds.

Recently its chief executive, Mark Cordell, told BID members: "It is acknowledged that the system being used is not the best way of introducing pay on exit, but in reality it was the most realistic and cost-effective system that was available and hence us supporting the trial.

"We know there were difficulties initially and that there are some further improvements that can be made, but I just wanted to reassure you that both the BID and the council are committed to this trial and steps are in hand to make it more customer friendly and when these changes are in place the BID will explain these to yourselves and the public and do all we can to encourage people to use the car park and stay longer in town, for the benefit of our businesses."

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