Is there a serious problem with parking?

WITH the transfer of responsibilities for parking services from the police to the council this could be an opportunity to do something radically

WITH the transfer of responsibilities for parking services from the police to the council this could be an opportunity to do something radically different than the usual parking schemes and restrictions that plague all towns in Britain. It is refreshing to see our council has gone to the trouble of asking for comments about the proposed changes, that the best decisions can be made by being considerate to those who are most affected. The key groups are residents, businesses in the area, and visitors. It is the visitors who are the ones to consider first. How many of them are there on an hourly basis? What are their intentions i.e. how long do they want to park? Why are they parking in this area and not parking somewhere else? I don't know if a survey of visitors has been made but it would be a good starting point for finding out what is needed. It is quite surprising when visiting France, virtually all public car parks are free and even most on-street parking is free unless in a real problem area. The council should not just look at this as an opportunity to generate money from residents, businesses and visitors.Is there fundamentally a serious problem with parking at present, other than the common problems of parking in the wrong place or in undesignated areas? Does there have to be extensive works and costs and the associated disruption to put in parking meters, parking permits and apparently 15-16 extra wardens to be paid for from income generated from the meters. Parking meters are susceptible to vandalism and theft and can sometimes be a real headache for people trying to park legally.Existing business owners in the affected area now can park close to their premises during the working day. Our feeling, as an organisation, is that members like residents pay a large amount through their rates, contributing not only to the local community but to the local economy and that at least they should be afforded some consideration for free parking in any new proposals.It is disappointing that a town the size of Weston has not considered seriously a good sized park and ride scheme which would surely be the most effective way to reduce visitor's traffic to the centre of town and also encourage more visitors to spend the day in the town without incurring heavy charging. Another concern of members in the affected area would be the use of loading bays and these must be kept free as a priority. Members though would not like to see wardens who became officious individuals and would antagonise delivery drivers and visitors alike by heavy handed policing of the parking areas. The experience of visiting Weston is that it should always be a welcoming town to come to, and this proposed strategy has the potential to damage this experience if not managed carefully.STEVE SHARP - Chairman Weston-super-Mare Branch Federation of Small Businesses

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