Plans to secure free parking for the future

NAILSEA Town Council plans to take over responsibility of the town’s car parks in a bid to stop North Somerset Council ever charging shoppers to use them.

The town council wants to buy the Clevedon and Station Road car parks from the unitary authority and is also backing a bid by supermarket giant Waitrose to buy the Link Road facility.

It believes the authority will scrap proposals to charge drivers in the town for the next financial year, meaning visitors can carry on parking for free in Nailsea until 2013.

The district’s parking issue is due to be discussed again at a meeting of North Somerset Council’s strategic planning and economic development policy and scrutiny panel on March 1.

The authority wanted to introduce fees at car parks in a bid to generate extra income following massive spending cuts, but has faced an angry backlash from businesses and residents in the town.

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The Times reported in October that businesses were joining forces to protest against the idea, which they said would kill trade, and in December the town’s chamber of trade handed the council petitions containing more than 3,000 signatures of support.

The authority believed charging drivers to use car parks and the streets around town centres in North Somerset, instead of just Weston, would net them an extra �1.3million.

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But business owners said the criteria used to calculate the figures was based on Weston tourism and does not apply in Nailsea.

They argued that parking does not need to be managed because car parks are rarely full and visitors would go elsewhere to shop where parking is free.

The Times also reported in November 2008 the car parks were riddled with potholes and uneven surfaces and the Link Road facility was not accessible for disabled people.

The town council worried that if they were not repaired, they would continue to deteriorate, possibly causing an accident.

Town clerk Ian Morrell said: “North Somerset Council is spending nothing on maintenance and improvements to the car parks, so gaining control is the only way any investment will be made in them.

“They don’t need a fortune spent on them but they have been left and are overgrown.

“We are still in negotiation because there are a number of issues to get sorted out.

“In the short term we want to make sure that parking remains free and we will be pleased if that is the outcome for this year, but we still need a long term solution.”

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