Parking review slammed as ‘private gathering’

The leader of North Somerset Council, Nigel Ashton, has promised a review of parking.

The leader of North Somerset Council, Nigel Ashton, has promised a review of parking. - Credit: Archant

Not one councillor from Weston has thus far been allowed to make comments in a review of parking in the town – despite ‘promises’ there would be cross-party involvement.

North Somerset Council’s economic development scrutiny panel (SPED) met at Weston Town Hall on Tuesday to discuss the authority’s ongoing parking review – which was launched in November and could see reductions in fares and restrictions.

A policy framework which will be used to conduct the review has been created by officers and a six-strong committee of ruling party councillors, with a working party eventually set to evaluate where changes could be made to parking regulations.

Parking has become a hot topic in Weston of late, with many feeling increased charges are deterring people from visiting the town centre.

But Hillside councillors John Crockford-Hawley and Mark Canniford are unhappy with the direction of the review, which has thus far only seen involvement from six councillors – none of whom represent Weston’s most acutely affected areas.

Cllr Crockford Hawley said: “The leader (Nigel Ashton) promised there was going to be a proper cross-party working party to discuss all parking issues.

“This private working party has already met and determined the policy, which is not what was promised.

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“Not a single councillor from the most-affected places have been allowed to make comments.

“The only councillor from Weston who has been involved is Cllr Peter Crew, who represents the (South Worle) ward (which is) furthest from the troubled areas. This has been a private gathering within our council.”

Cllr Canniford said Cllr Ashton was ‘foolish to exclude people from the review’ and urged councillors to ensure Weston’s declining footfall figures are used as evidence in the review.

“There is little doubt figures have fallen in Weston town centre.

“This could be attributed to parking charges, and you should be making sure it is looked at in your policy.

“If it’s not, you are probably missing the greatest element of fact you can have, and you’re ignoring it because it doesn’t suit the decisions you want to make.”

Cllr Crew said there would be cross-party involvement later in the process.