Senior councillors allowed to park for free in North Somerset

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 07:47 31 July 2018

The councillors have permits allowing them to park for free across the region.

The councillors have permits allowing them to park for free across the region.

Archant

A senior councillor has defended his privilege of parking for free in North Somerset, saying it is only right because it is ‘part of his job’.

Council leader Nigel Ashton and the executive member for planning, highways and transport, Elfan Ap Rees can use their permits at any time they feel it is relevant to their work and do not need to keep a log of where and when they parked their cars.

The revelation was made at North Somerset’s full council meeting last week.

Cllr Ap Rees, when quizzed on the permit, told the meeting: “Car parks are part of my portfolio so I am constantly going around and needing to park and that is part of my job.”

Cllr Mark Canniford who raised the issue of parking perks this week, is unhappy with the practice.

He said: “I think it is pretty shameful – these permits mean they do not have to quantify their trips. No other councillors get such a privilege.”

The council confirmed no review to look into Cllr Ashton’s and Ap Rees’ permit use are planned.

Its spokesman said: “All councillors get a permit for certain council car parks where they can park when on council business.

“The leader and deputy leader have permits allowing them to park in any council car parks in our area, again when engaged on council business.”

The subject of parking fees has always been a hot topic, although most car parks in the northern half of the district are free.

MORE: Stricter parking restrictions planned by council.

But many Weston streets are subject to parking charges, which the council promised to review earlier in the year.

Cllr Ashton said at the time: “I would prefer not to have car parking charges as tax. I think it has got out of hand.

“I think we have to do a complete review of what car parking charges are for.”

The council took over civil parking enforcement across North Somerset – for offences such as parking on double-yellow lines – from the police in early April last year.

MORE: Thousands of motorists pick up parking tickets from North Somerset Council.

A whopping 1,031 tickets were handed out to drivers in Clevedon, three times as many as Nailsea and Portishead combined.

In Backwell, 161 fines were dished out but only one person picked up a fine in Wrington, and none were distributed in Cleeve, Congresbury, Failand or Yatton.

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