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Thoughts on residents parking and Bristol local government

May 4, 2013

I was first elected to the old Avon council twenty years ago this week. My ward of Cabot covered the city centre, Kingsdown and much of Cotham and Clifton.  For the next six years I spent most of my time trying to minimise the impact of the car on my local residents. They suffered more than any other part of the city from commuters using their streets as a giant free parking lot and “rat running” at speed.

I managed to achieve several road closures and one way streets, transforming Kingsdown in particular.  But a residents parking scheme remained elusive.  Finally, at the end of 2010 a scheme was introduced and it is very popular.  Ironically, it came in just as I moved from Kingsdown to a road in St Andrews that has its own appalling traffic problems.

So I’m pleased that Mayor Ferguson has decided to roll out resident parking zones across most of the Bristol West constituency.  But my constituency is not some homogenous mass of streets, suitable for a one size fits all scheme.  Some areas such as St Pauls and the Dings still suffer from commuter parking.  Other areas such as Clifton or the streets adjacent to Gloucester Road are a complex ecosystem of local residents and independent businesses dependent on short term parking. Some areas have a problem during the day, some in the evening.

The Mayor will need to take on board the concerns of residents about zone boundaries, times of operation and permit prices.  He will also have to accept that some areas don’t have a problem that needs to be solved, even  allowing for any displacement by a nearby parking scheme. It is hard for me to see the need for a scheme in many parts of Bishopston or St Werburghs.

The announcement of the residents parking scheme is the first major policy decision by the new Mayor that will directly affects tens of thousands of people.  It is also the first test of how the Mayor works in harmony with local ward councillors, or for that matter a constituency MP.  It’s a real opportunity for the Mayor to take a strategic decision but for the on the ground implementation to be influenced by local councillors applying their street by street knowledge to the task.  If the Mayor decides to press ahead with a blanket imposition of the scheme then he will have operated within the limits of his powers but crossed the boundary of common sense.

While canvassing for the local elections in recent weeks I have stressed the need for local community champions, working with but also acting as a check on the power of our new Mayor. Residents parking will show whether the new model of local government can work.

 

NOTE – this article was written for the Bristol Post, published on 2 May 2013

19 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2013 11:52 pm

    There was a meeting of the CN/CNE Neighborhood Partnership Forum a couple of weeks ago. Word got around that the Mayor’s plans for CPZ parking was about to be rolled out and this would be discussed at the NP Forum meeting. Instead of our usual 40/50 attendees talking to the police and various representatives from the Council to discuss various local issues, around 250 people turned up to ask questions on the CPZ issue which completely swamped the Forum meeting!

    As the Equalities representative on the CN/CNE/CT partnership I raised the Question of what would happen regarding the existing vital Disabled parking spaces and, indeed any future ones. The present ones are WHITE painted and unprotected by double yellow lines and hence are ADVISORY only. Any driver selfish and callous enough to park on one can do so as there are at present no ways of preventing this. It is axiomatic that a Disabled Parking Space MUST be outside the disabled persons’ home!!

    The answer I received at the meeting was that the Council representative was sure that the Mayor would take this matter into account and introduce suitable arrangements…..

    Not as satisfactory an answer.as I had hoped for, bearing in mind that the majority of Disabled people with Disabled parking spaces could not attend the Forum because of access/parking problems at the Venue!!

    Kind Regards,

    John Rippon

  2. Gavin permalink
    May 13, 2013 2:09 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    I accept your thoughts on the RPZ proposals, but in addition to residential parking problems Bristol has other serious problems which the RPZ (and the mooted congestion charge) could help to resolve: air pollution; traffic congestion; public transport (poor provision + high prices + poor service, blamed in part on congestion and lack of demand). To me, as a driver + cyclist + pedestrian, and to many others (including one would suppose most non-car-owners, which would be most of the city population but maybe not most of the voters), these issues are far more important than residential parking. Please keep these things in mind when you address the need for the RPZ and the congestion charge.

  3. Colin Capner permalink
    May 13, 2013 6:18 pm

    Dear Stephen

    At first i thought the parking scheme might be useful but my mind is changing! I live in Kingsdown and the scheme is in operation Monday to Friday 9-5. Parking meters have been installed for use during that time. As I work and generally am away from the area between 9-5 and when I do return home there is the same congestion as ever (especially early evening) Im not sure what I am paying for in terms of my parking permit. I think I am just subsidising the retired, student and unemployed who dont move their cars during the day and providing convenient parking in the evening at at weekends for those wishing to use Broadmead or the pubs (much as I like people using the local businesses). Building regulations in the area do not seem to include consideration of where increasing numbers of people might park their cars and in general I think fairly soon we will be back to pre-parking zone levels of traffic but with a levy (tax) for living in the area and using a car.

    That may be justifiable but it isn’t the reason you give in painting the rosy picture of the RPZ that I increasingly fail to recognise. This may sound a little selfish but as we are all Conservatives now (yes even you), self preservation is once again the theme du jour.

    I think now that you don’t live in Kingsdown perhaps it would be worth you taking another look.

  4. Mrs Danuta Kellett and family permalink
    May 13, 2013 8:19 pm

    Dear Mr Williams, I was quite scared when Dr Rogers lost, because he was very determined about residents parking in St Pauls, but it seems that not all is bad as there might be still residence parking here so that the street where I live will be less conjested especially for my neighbours,who are parents to small children and are commuting with them using cars. Do keep well. Mrs Danuta Kellett

  5. Alan Moore permalink
    May 14, 2013 9:00 am

    However you dress it up it’s just another way of making more money from the poor motorist, as if we don’t pay enough for owning a car. It will not help getting a parking space in Clifton we don’t have the problems that Kingsdown had, and a parking charge will make no difference.

    • Gavin permalink
      May 14, 2013 1:02 pm

      Alan, if you live near any households with a lot of cars then the RPZ will help you because those households will only be able to have a limited number of passes. That will obviously apply to student HMOs but also to family houses where everybody has a car (maybe that’s you?)

  6. David Etches permalink
    May 14, 2013 10:30 am

    I fear we will end up with a one size fits all scheme simply because it will be easier to police. Latest information I have is that the cost of the scheme in Kingsdown and Cotham may be increased to finance the roll out throughout Ashley Ward. Where I live in St Andrews there is no issue with commuters. I’ve lived here over 30 years and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to park more than 100 metres from my front door.

    There may be huge damage to the viability of businesses on the Gloucester Road once there are restrictions in place on adjacent side roads.There’s a lot of heat and not much light in this discussion caused in the main by the Mayor not consulting in the first place.

    • Gavin permalink
      May 14, 2013 1:02 pm

      David, Even if it was one-size-fits-all in terms of costs and operating hours, the thing that will make most difference to Gloucester Road and other traders is the number if free and metered short-stay parking places in the side-roads, these are generally mixed in with the residential parking places to give the right balance for each location. In some areas this could give more shoppers parking than is currently available, by stopping commuters (and local workers, including the shop staff) taking up parking places all day which might otherwise been used by a dozen shoppers for a short while each.
      Alan, if you live near any households with a lot of cars then the RPZ will help you because those households will only be able to have a limited number of passes. That will obviously apply to student HMOs but also to family houses where everybody has a car (maybe that’s you?)

  7. Alan Moore permalink
    May 14, 2013 3:04 pm

    I’m sorry Gavin but this will not help. I don’t where you live but we don’t have a problem in Clifton village. I voted to have a mayor but am now regretting it. Also what happens if households have 2 3 or four cars. Most of the people voicing their opinions to bring this scheme in have garages. Too much importance and money given to cyclists .

    • Gavin permalink
      May 14, 2013 4:45 pm

      If there’s really not a parking problem for anybody in Clifton village then things should stay as they are. I’m pleasantly surprised if the available parking space and current rules are adequate for commuters, shoppers, residents and visitors. I seem to spend a long time looking for a space on the rare occasions that I drive there.

      If there is a problem then an RPZ (if it works as in Kingsdown) would disadvantage households with many cars, benefit households with fewer cars by freeing up parking spaces for them (but at the price of one or more annual permits) and disadvantage commuters (by limiting long term parking spaces and making them pay for it). What it does for shoppers/traders/visitors depends on what hours it runs, how visitors permits are allocated to residents/businesses, how many providing short-term parking spaces are provided and whether they are metered or free – these are things to be addressed by local consultation.

      Remember that if there’s too much air pollution or if traffic/congestion levels in general are too high (both are true where I live near Gloucester Road) then an RPZ is likely to improve these too. Those are personal subjective things but I don’t think you’ll find many people wanting more of either.

  8. Sue permalink
    May 15, 2013 8:10 pm

    At first I thought a residents parking scheme would be useful where I live, just off Gloucester Road. However, now I’m increasingly doubting this. I’m not often at home during weekdays, but when I have been, there has been plenty of parking space in the streets around mine. The times when it’s difficult to park are on Saturdays and in the evenings, when people are presumably parking to shop or go to bars and restaurants on Gloucester Road. So the RPZ would not appear to have any benefits.
    I believe the likely impact on the shops and businesses on Gloucester Road will need to be very carefully assessed, as it’s vital to protect this very vibrant high street. Another factor which will need to be taken into account is the loss of the shoppers’ car park, with the building of the library and surgery in the old Bristol North baths. Where will shoppers be supposed to park?
    The mayor and council should prioritise making drastic improvements to public transport, and reducing the price. Only this policy will reduce the volumes of traffic and congestion in the city.

  9. Careymcclellan@yahoo.com permalink
    May 18, 2013 9:48 am

    As a resident of Redland where You have to even get permission to prune a tree as it is a conservation area I find it incredulous that the notion of painting yellow lines and adding unsightly meters and signs will not alter the exact thing that the conservation areas are designed to protect. I am not convinced by the argument that this wider scheme will have the desired effect because When the schools are out the roads are clearer during peak hours, this traffic will be the same, as it is not commuter. The argument for the impact on pollution by the RPZ, I believe will not have a profound impact as is stated as there are too many confounding factors that will still exist.

    My cousin in a town planner in Australia who have worked all over the world and he was “blown away” by Bristol for its: business, space, resident and environmental balance. This scheme unbalances this and will alter the unique feel Bristol has- it is in your hands. Finally if it the scheme does go a head, and I have felt very impotent as a resident in influencing stopping it, I strongly hope that the hubs of local shops in areas such as the: Gloucester road, cotham and clifton (this is by no means a exhaustive list) are not impacted. I think you need a hour free parking like in clifton which enables commerce and locals to enjoy these areas.

  10. May 19, 2013 9:25 pm

    Thanks to everyone who has commented here and to the many people who have emailed me with their thoughts. I will be summarising the issues for the Mayor. The most frequently occurring comment is about the imposition of a blanket scheme and the lack of meaningful consultation.

  11. David R permalink
    June 9, 2013 12:12 pm

    Why are the residents and Businesses being asked to pay for the permits at all, especially considering some of the reported huge cost to businesses.

    Also, are these charges one off or annual charges?

    In my opinion, this method is liable to be used in the future as source of income for the Council, I find it very difficult to justify any cost being levied at all. The cost of administering it should be born in other ways (such as the Pay and Display provision)

    • Gavin permalink
      June 10, 2013 12:29 am

      Maybe it’s fair to make the drivers who want to park in residential streets pay – whether residents or not. The proposed scheme does that by combining residents permits and pay-and-display places.

      Maybe it’s fair that all those who stand to benefit should pay. That would be anybody who lives in Bristol, we will benefit from cleaner air, less traffic and congestion (a benefit to anybody who walks, cycles, drives or uses public transport), better parking in those residential areas which are currently congested. In that case the cost fairly could be added to existing taxes such as Council Tax and Business Rates.

      However, I think the most important question is why the scheme should cost so much to run (whilst making so little revenue from parking charges and fines). Shouldn’t extending the scheme from a few areas to city-wide make it less expensive (in terms of £ per household) to run than more expensive? Yes the permit costs proposed are significantly more than existing schemes.

      If the scheme does make an excessive profit then at least one might hope that the profit goes to the council to do beneficial things for us all, not to private companies contracted to run the scheme. Bristol Council, if you’re reading this then please get in touch: I’m interested in being an enforcement officer – I’ll do it cheaper than your existing providers and I’m happy to be paid by results!

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  15. Lizziex7 permalink
    March 11, 2016 12:13 pm

    My dad works in the middle of Redland and we live almost 45 minutes away. Because of the parking permits near his work he has to walk up to 30 minutes twice a day. It is ridiculous and he has a very heavy bag. I think that small businesses are also being terribly knocked because people are not getting out as much because the permits are so expensive! I am not happy. I voted George Ferguson and I have regretted it ever since and I think he is a bad Mayer.

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