Parking charges still a possibility
- Credit: James Franklin
THE threat of parking charges in Portishead and Clevedon still looms over both towns after a decision was made to continue investigating the idea.
Proposals to introduce fees at The Esplanade and Roath Road car park in Portishead and Hill Road, The Beach, Elton Road, Old Church Road and Marson Road car park in Clevedon were discussed by North Somerset Council’s Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel (SPED) yesteday (Tues).
During the meeting, numerous objections were lodged against the proposals by the public as well as councillors who all hoped the idea would be dropped.
Many said the proposals, which were compiled by a panel working party, would simply force people to park elsewhere, be detrimental to business and act as a ‘volunteer tax’ for those people giving their time to organisations, such as Portishead’s open air pool and tennis club both at the Lake Grounds near The Esplanade.
Calls were made by some North Somerset councillors to look into handing over responsibility for parking in Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead to each of the town councils.
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Nailsea Town Council has already suggested it takes on leases for car parks at Link Road, Station Road and Clevedon Road, an idea supported by the working party.
Cllr Bob Cook said: “Nailsea has been consistent right from the start asking for control of the car parks.
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“I think we should surely consider all the towns in North Somerset taking on parking in its entirety.”
During the meeting, some panel members said they could not vote on the working party’s recommendations due to a lack of figures and financial information included in its report.
However, despite the many objections, a majority on the panel still voted to recommend that North Somerset Council’s executive member for highways, Elfan Ap Rees, further investigates all proposals for low, short-stay charging in Clevedon and Portishead.
The panel did, however, recommend leasing the three car parks in Nailsea to the town council. If this deal does not materialise, the fall-back position could be to charge for long-stay parking at Clevedon Road car park.
The panel has asked that, once such investigations have been carried out, the executive member’s views be reported back to the panel.
It also voted in favour of any revenue from parking charges being used to improve gully cleaning and also to introduce civil parking enforcement across North Somerset, in which traffic wardens rather than the police are responsible for enforcing restrictions, as soon as possible to mitigate any displacement of parking problems.
The working group has proposed charging for spaces in The Esplanade, which runs along the town’s seafront and near the open air pool, despite about 2,500 people signing petitions against any charges in the area.
Their report to the meeting said the spaces up the hill from the pool in Esplanade Road are predominantly used by pool users and walkers so would not be charged for and those down the hill along the seafront are more likely to be used by visitors from outside Portishead so would be charged for.
However, these recommendations have not been well-received by pool volunteers who believe parking issues will be displaced as a result.
Barbara Thatcher, a pool volunteer who was due to speak at yesterday’s meeting, said: “Visitors will just move somewhere where they can park for free and it will clog up all other roads in the area.
“Any scheme to reimburse swimmers and volunteers at the pool wouldn’t work as it would cause an administrative burden.
“If there was a permit scheme that would also cause problems as people would have to park somewhere before going to the pool to get the permit.
“A two-hour limit would also be really difficult for the pool as most people come here for a day or an afternoon.”
As well as The Esplanade, the working group is recommending charges at Roath Road Car Park near the High Street where prices could start at 20p and increase to £1 for a two-hour stay. The report also suggests investigating a permit scheme for nearby residents.
In the face of charging being introduced in Portishead, the town council has indicated it may be willing to assume control of car parking from North Somerset Council.
In Clevedon, more than 7,500 signatures have been collected on petitions against charges in the town.
Since the idea was first put forward last year, residents and the business community have rallied together to fight the proposals which they believe will greatly affect trade.
While it was first suggested charges could be introduced in numerous roads in and around the town centre and seafront, the working group has now narrowed this down to The Beach and pier area, Hill Road, Elton Road and Old Church Road.
In the town centre, charges could also be implemented at Marson Road car park.
All would be to encourage vehicle turnover and it is likely all would be subject to prices ranging from 20p for a short stay up to £1 for two hours.
Despite the fact the number of roads in the proposals has been reduced, traders still believe the idea is short-sighted.
Linda Richards, landlady at The Royal Oak pub in Copse Road who was due to speak on behalf of traders and residents at yesterday’s meeting, said: “If they do it in Hill Road, it will displace all of the parking to other roads.
“Most traders in Hill Road just wanted to see the current restrictions there enforced.”
Jenny Williams, owner of Scarlett’s restaurant in The Beach, who set up a petition along with Linda, said: “We just don’t know what is going through their minds. This will just push all of the traffic back off the beach.
“There all sorts of implications that no one seems to have worked their way through.
“I think they are being very short-sighted.”