Parking meters for Weston-super-Mare
By Carol_Deacon | Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:39
A working party is to meet this week to discuss whether to recommend introducing parking charges in Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead.
Parking meters arrive in Weston - will the rest of North Somerset follow?
The working party was set up earlier this year to investigate the possibility of introducing parking charges in car parks and on streets the three towns.
The move to consider parking arrangements in the north of the district follows a decision by the council to introduce parking meters in Weston-super-Mare town centre.
Council chiefs said the installation of the meters - due to become operational next month -follow complaints from residents and traders that people were leaving their cars there all day, preventing visitors and shoppers from using them.
The working party has spent the past months meeting with representatives from all three towns to discuss the implantation of charges.
It is looking at whether to introduce charging in areas including The Esplanade and the Lake Grounds in Portishead and along The Beach and Marine in Clevedon.
Other areas under consideration include car parks in all three towns and a number of residential streets.
News of the possibility of parking charges has been greeted with horror by local traders, councillors and community groups saying it will have a devastating impact on business and force shoppers to out of town complexes where parking is free.
Local business people said charging should not be introduced at a time where businesses are already struggling for trade due to the current economic climate.
Concerns have also been raised that motorists will just spill out on to residential streets to avoid having to pay and display.
The working group will make a recommendation to council's strategic planning and economic development (SPED) panel when it meets in November.
The panel will then make a recommendation to the authority's executive member for transport and highways and Hutton and Locking ward councillor Elfan Ap Rees who will make a final decision.
SPED panel chairman Clive Webb, who represents the Clarence and Uphill ward, said: "The working party will meet this week where it will deliberate on the matter and come up with some conclusions which will go to the SPED panel.
"Our recommendations do not necessarily have to be taken on board by the panel.
"We have had a number of meetings with representatives from each town, most of which have been constructive.
"Obviously there are strong feelings against the introduction of charging in all three towns, which is of no surprise.
"We have looked at each town individually and there may be some areas where it is not practical.
"We have listened carefully to all the arguments and as yet, nothing has been ruled in or ruled out."
- Work has already started on installing 41 pay and display machines around Weston-super-Mare town centre in readiness for the introduction of the on-street parking scheme next month. The scheme is being introduced in response to concerns raised by traders, shoppers and disabled drivers over parking congestion and unauthorised on-street long stay parking in the town centre. It will make spaces more easily available to shoppers, raising the economic vitality of the town and improving traffic flow and disabled parking. In addition, it will enable off-street short stay parking charges to be reduced. North Somerset Council is currently undertaking preparatory work, including laying foundations and extending the footways in some places, before the machines start to be installed later this month. There will also be changes to signing and some road markings over the next few weeks. The aim is to implement the scheme in mid-November. A complementary scheme to electronically sign off-street car park space availability in the town centre is also expected to become operational in the coming weeks. Residents living in the scheme area will be contacted shortly with an application form for parking permits allowing extended parking on-street from 5pm-10am. Each household in the area will be able to buy up to two permits, the first at £31 and a second for £62. Alternatively, there will be a £130 annual permit for residents in the zone offering long stay parking in Locking Road car park throughout the year at an equivalent of less than 40p per day and including the permitted parking on-street option. On-street parking charges for non-residents will be 20p for the first 20 minutes, £1 for an hour, £1.80 for one-and-a-half hours and £2.40 for two hours.
- Earlier this year it was decided when the car park at Nailsea and Backwell railway station is extended but commuters will have to pay £1.50 a day charges. North Somerset Council agreed to create more than 180 extra spaces funded by car parking fees. The existing 120 space car park will be extended by 183 to provide a total of 303 pay and display spaces. The introduction of parking fees will fund the £700,000 scheme and cover operating costs. The land has already been purchased by the district council and work could start this year to tie-in with £1million Department of Transport improvements to the platform access ramps. Season tickets will be offered for regular travellers at £300 per year or £90 per quarter with off-peak travellers – after 10am and at weekends – paying £1. Money for the capital costs will be borrowed and paid back over 25 years at £57,178 per year. Completion is expected by 2015.