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Thursday, 6th Jun 2013

Bristol Green Party Councillors' Statement on Residents' Parking Schemes (RPS)

Green Party Policy

Bristol Green Party’s policy on Residents' Parking Zones has been to support it when residents are in favour of it. This has not changed.

What has changed is that we now have a Mayor who has made a decision that Residents' Parking Schemes (RPS) will be introduced throughout central Bristol. We would not have sought
to impose them without local referenda, but the Mayor has been elected to think strategically about the whole city. The Mayor has made it clear repeatedly that this decision is final and the schemes will be going ahead.

The Mayor's handling of the introduction of RPS

We have noticed that the Mayor has an unconventional approach to consultation. He seems to think that announcing his intention and then dealing with the resulting furor is a form of consultation. This approach can leave out those members of our communities who do not use social media. It can also give a false impression of what people really think because there is no reliable data generated.

We think that Local Government needs to use mechanisms at its disposal to ensure that all parts of our diverse community are reached by consultation. This means using the Neighbourhood Partnerships, community and faith groups as well as schools and business organisations.

We feel that the launch of this important measure to control commuter parking, reduce congestion and improve air quality could have been handled more sensitively by the Mayor. The strength of feeling over this issue was entirely predictable and the lack of information regarding key issues has made it difficult to deal with the genuine concerns of some residents.

A small amount of research shows that other cities have dealt with such issues as key workers, trades people, businesses, landlords and charities.

There also seem to be cities that zone residents parking into those that have a problem now (inner city) and those that don’t (outer city). Unsurprisingly inner city residents are generally accepting of the introduction of these schemes whilst areas further out, which do not have a problem now, don’t. However these outer zones are needed if they are not to become full of cars displaced from the inner zones.

We have had little in the way of ideas from the Mayor's office about what is on offer for customising schemes to suit the areas they serve.

Public Transport

If RPSs are to work, public transport needs to improve. We would welcome information from the Mayor as to how the city’s public transport is to be improved to cope with the inevitable increase in passenger volume that will result from reduced use of the car.

How will more cycling and walking be encouraged? Bike parking provision is already inadequate, what plans are there to improve this?

How does the Mayor intend to fund this much needed upgrade to the public transport service, not only within the city, but also to and from the surrounding towns and villages. Bristol Green Party would support the introduction of a workplace parking levy which would be charged to employers who provide more than 10 car parking spaces.

Our Role as Councillors

As Councilors we are working hard to ensure that the schemes introduced will meet the needs of the people we represent. We are not entering into the campaigns for or against the schemes as this decision has already been made.

We feel that there is too much heat in this situation. We have been subject to some very aggressive campaigning against the schemes. These questions should be directed at the Mayor as it is he who has made this decision and only he who can change the policy.

Our postbags are not dominated by those against the introduction of these schemes. Many have contacted us to express their support for their introduction. Some of these people feel intimidated by the style of campaigning adopted by some of those against the introduction of an RPS. We urge all concerned to not lose perspective on this issue, it is emotive, but it is important to respect all view points.

We see our role as listening to specific concerns about how the schemes will operate in particular localities and presenting these to the Mayor so that we get the best scheme for each area.

Scheme Details

Many people have reasonable concerns about how these schemes operate and we do not want their concerns to be drowned out by all the noise. These are the areas of concern that have been raised with us:

Charges

We do not believe that these schemes should be used to raise funds. However if they are to be introduced we do think that it is fair that the schemes fund themselves. The Kingsdown scheme did not fund itself as the cost of making the road improvements necessary were borne by the council. We understand this is why the charges are higher for the proposed zones than for those already in existence.

We do think there is scope for differential charging in different areas.

Hours of Operation

These will not be the same for all areas. Please do contact us with your thoughts. These do need to be tailored to meet local needs and one size will definitely not fit all.

Flat conversions

The existing zones treat flats paying separate council tax as separate households each with a full entitlement to permits.

Houses In Multiple Occupancy

In existing schemes these are treated as one household with one entitlement to permits

Visitors parking

The existing schemes allow 50 free permits per year with the possibility of a further 50 priced at £1 per day. If the scheme operates from Monday to Saturday 50 is increased to 60.

Front Gardens

Generally, conservation associations welcome these schemes as they are usually viewed as helping to preserve front gardens. By making parking easier for residents the pressure to convert front gardens usually falls. The conversion of front gardens to car parking will still require planning permission.

Student parking

Students will be treated in exactly the same way as other residents. Cars will need to be registered at the address within the relevant zone. This will act as a discouragement to some as they may prefer to have their vehicle registered at a parental address. Some other cities operate student parking permits.

Disabled Parking

Holders of blue disabled badges can park free of charge in any disabled bay or in any of the metered spaces.

High Street Traders

We strongly believe that sufficient short stay free parking needs to be designed into the system, with metered low cost parking for longer visits. Providing this is done an RPS can help traders by making finding a space much easier albeit introducing a small charge

Businesses

We are particularly keen to see that the needs of small businesses are taken into account and that use of our high street shops is made easier. The existing schemes allow businesses, schools or organisations based in an RPS to apply for two business permits. They are also able to buy up to five customer permits. We would welcome any ideas as to how the introduction of an RPS can be used to help businesses

Key Workers

We would like to see a citywide pass introduced to allow care workers, midwives, health visitors, etc. to go about their business.

Owners/ Landlords

The existing schemes allow Owners to apply for one business permit for every ten properties that they own.

Commuters

People coming into work using residential streets as work car parks will be affected by the introduction of RPSs. If Bristol is to become less clogged by cars and their fumes, then more people are going to have to travel to work by foot, bike or public transport.

The Mayor has said that he has asked council officers to investigate congestion charging. If he were to decide to introduce this then this it could raise money to be spent on public transport. We also urge the Mayor to look at introducing a workplace parking levy.

Bristol Green Party has long argued that the region needs to have an integrated transport authority if reliance on cars is to be reduced. Surrounding local authorities, who have many residents working in Bristol, rely on free parking within Bristol. We hope that introducing these schemes puts pressure on these authorities to stop exporting their transport problems to Bristol and start seeing the need for an integrated transport authority.

Conclusion

We intend to work with residents to achieve the most appropriate scheme for each locality and to ensure that parking space available is shared in the fairest way possible. We welcome the opportunity presented to rationalise provision so that pavements are not blocked and can be used
by prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs.

We think that RPSs have the potential to greatly improve life in the city by reducing traffic circulating in residential streets in search of free parking. The resulting reduction in congestion and air pollution is an important benefit, which should not be overlooked.

We expect most residents and local traders to see these benefits over time and come to like the schemes once they are introduced. If this is not the case, or there are specific problems, we will be there to help adapt the schemes in the light of that experience.

Cllr Tess Green – Southville
Cllr Gus Hoyt – Ashley
Cllr Daniella Radice – Bishopston
Cllr Rob Telford - Ashley

6th June 2013

 

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