Car park charging plan dropped by Bath and North East Somerset Council
Plans to charge in small free car parks in communities across the Bath area have been dropped after a backlash from traders and politicians.
Liberal Democrat-run Bath and North East Somerset Council had been considering bringing in charges at nine car parks across the district in a move which would have generated £300,000 a year.
But the authority’s consultation process over its budget plans have revealed widespread opposition to the idea, and it now says free parking will be kept in Batheaston, Chew Magna, Midsomer Norton, Paulton, Peasedown St John, Radstock, Saltford, Timsbury, and Wellow.
It has also now reviewed the situation in Larkhall, where its charging plans unleashed a volley of criticism from shopkeepers and local councillors, and decided not to charge there, at a site in East Twerton, and at two small sites in Keynsham.
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The decision was made after budget fairs which gave local people and organisations the chance to provide feedback on the council’s plans to balance its books against the background of the most swingeing funding cuts since the war.
Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib Dem, Combe Down), its cabinet member for transport, said: “We are a listening council and the messages that the cabinet heard about abolishing free parking in many car parks were very clear. Proposals for charging in Batheaston, Chew Magna, Midsomer Norton, Paulton, Peasedown St. John, Radstock, Saltford, Timsbury, and Wellow will not form part of the cabinet’s budget recommendation to council in February 2013.”
It stressed that proposals to raise extra income through parking charges in Royal Victoria Park would be unaffacted.
Larkhall councillor Dave Laming (Ind, Lambridge) said he had persuaded Mr Symonds of the damage parking charges would do to local traders.
“We need to work together to keep shops going,” he said.
Conservative councillors had also strongly criticised the car park charging plan.
Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Resources, Councilor Charles Gerrish (Con, Keynsham North), said:
“This has to be one of the fastest U-turns in the council’s history so far, but the fact the Lib Dems have bowed to public pressure will come as great relief to local residents and traders.
“However, this has left the council’s budget plans in disarray and will result in a financial black hole to fill."
People can still take part in the consultation at www.bathnes.gov.uk/budgetview or by writing to Resources Team, 3rd Floor, Guildhall, Bath, BA1 5AW.