Permits go digital as Bath council streamlines residents' parking system
Changes to the city’s residents’ parking scheme, including a price increase and tougher rules on visitor parking, have been unveiled.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has announced that from next week it will be introducing a new digital regime which will do away with the traditional paper parking permit and use numberplate recognition technology.
As part of the changes the council is raising the cost of a parking permit for households from £90 to £100 in the central zone, and £93 to £100 in the outer zone, and bringing in a new four-hour minimum payment for visitor parking.
Hilary and Patrick Bryan, of Bathwick Hill, say they are infuriated by the council’s decision to change the way visitor parking permits are allocated.
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The couple, who live in Darlington Place, say the new rules could affect the time they spend with their eight grandchildren.
At the moment residents are able to activate and deactivate the temporary permits by telephone or via a website, and only pay for the hours that visitors stay. But under the new system they will be forced to pay for at least four hours regardless for how long their visitors spend with them, and the annual total will be capped at 1,000 hours.
Mrs Bryan said: “We constantly have grandchildren being dropped off and unless they throw them in the door, the parents usually come in for a cup of tea. We will probably run out of parking but we won’t run out of grandchildren.”
The Federation of Bath Residents’ Associations (FoBRA) said it had not received any complaints about the stricter controls over visitor parking but said it had more general concerns about residents’ parking.
Patrick Rotheram, the group’s spokesman for transport, said: “FoBRA is concerned that the present parking system remains unfair to central zone residents as compared with residents in other parking zones.
“It is often very difficult for residents to find a space anywhere near their home, and there are no resident visitor permits.”
The council said this would be the first price increase to parking permits in three years, and that the changes to visitor parking were the result of a survey, which showed 73 per cent of visitor stays were for more than four hours.
B&NES has also abolished the unpopular premium rate telephone number that people used to activate permits, which cost residents an extra 62p on top of a visitor permit.
A council spokesman said: “The council has been clear about its spending and investment priorities for 2013/14, namely protecting services to the public; no increases in council tax; investing in new homes and jobs for local people. To achieve these, some difficult decisions will be needed, including improving our administrative systems and reducing the amount of subsidy we provide for customers of certain services, like residents’ parking. As a result of the review to our charges the council is still subsidising the cost of the parking permit system by around 26 per cent – compared to around 31 per cent previously.”
Council transport cabinet member Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib Dem, Combe Down) added: “The process for purchasing a wide range of parking permits will be much more convenient with our new online system. The council is making as many services as possible accessible digitally to improve convenience and cut bureaucracy in the organisation. The other ways of making a purchase will remain.
“We have put details about what these improvements mean for anyone who uses a permit on our website.”
Information is at www.bathnes.gov.uk/parkingpermit.
An evening drop-in session at the council’s Manvers Street One Stop Shop will take place on Thursday between 5pm and 9pm and is open to all members of the public. People can also call 01225 477133 or 477134 or email email@example.com.