A petition is calling on Bristol Council to drop charges for local businesses trading in suspended parking bays during the coronavirus outbreak.
As a measure to enable social distancing, Bristol Council suspended parking in various streets around Bristol to widen pavements. As lockdown restrictions eased, businesses such as those in Clifton’s Princess Victoria Street sought to reopen by providing seating in this extra space available. However in July Green councillor Paula O’Rourke revealed that the Council is charging local businesses for using the empty parking bays – to the tune of at least £7000 per year. Following complaints from businesses in her ward Councillor O’Rourke urged the Mayor to look into the issue as a matter of urgency, and secured a promise from Marvin Rees to consider delaying the charges. (1) Local businesses have warned the charges could make the difference between remaining open and being forced to close.
Sylvie Dagallier, landlord of the Bristol Fringe bar and venue, said:
“To secure social distancing, outside areas are essential as the Bristol Fringe has a very small internal footprint. I have lost all my trade as there is no live music anymore – the outside area is my only realistic trading area these days. However to be charged £40 a day for the use of the space is not financially feasible.”
Now Green councillors are backing a petition calling on the council to suspend trading charges wherever parking bays have been suspended until at least September 2021. The petition (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/suspend-bristol-street-trading-charges-during-covid) currently has over 800 signatures – if it reaches the Council’s threshold of 3,500 it will go to a debate at the September Council meeting.
Clifton Green Councillor Jerome Thomas said: “I know the council faces some tough budget decisions due to Coronavirus but these street trading charges won’t generate significant sums of money for the Council, and they will be a hammer blow to local businesses trying to open up again as we emerge from lockdown.”
Paula said: “I’ve spent the best part of the summer working with local businesses and council officers about these changes and trying to sort things out. Local businesses are simply trying to adapt to the Council’s street changes and provide space for customers in the street now that car parking spaces have been removed. They shouldn’t be punished for doing the right thing.
“The Mayor has talked a lot about the threat to business and the harm caused to the economy by lockdown – now he has the chance to back his words up with action by throwing local businesses a lifeline. Bristol can ‘build back better’ out of lockdown and have thriving streets that work for everyone, but the Council has to play its part to make that work.”
– Image: Councillor O’Rourke with Richard Davis, chair of Clifton BID (Business Improvement District)
1) Bristol Post 15 July 2020 – Mayor promises to consider delaying parking bay suspension fees for pubs and cafés (https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/mayor-promises-consider-delaying-parking-4328467)