Disabled bays to go in new town centre parking plan

THE number of parking bays for disabled people in Weston will be slashed by nearly half if a new scheme goes ahead. As part of North Somerset Council's

THE number of parking bays for disabled people in Weston will be slashed by nearly half if a new scheme goes ahead.As part of North Somerset Council's plans to create a new town centre parking system the number of spaces for blue badge holders will be reduced from 65 to 39.The authority is carrying out a major public consultation exercise on what residents think of plans to transfer responsibility for enforcing on-street parking to the council from the police.As part of the proposals the total number of disabled bays would make up eight per cent of all spaces in the town centre, which the authority says is above the national average.The other 92 per cent would be made up of loading bays, pay and display areas, motorcycle parking and spaces for the emergency services.A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "There will be less blue badge spaces but holders will be able to park in pay and display areas for free for up to three hours."Because there will be regular patrols around the 39 spaces they will only be used by the people entitled to park there."If the project goes ahead the proposed changes include hiring attendants to patrol North Somerset's streets to fine the area's rogue drivers.The attendants would be funded by creating a zone in Weston where on-street charging would be introduced. As well as fining irresponsible parkers the attendants would be a 'frontline service' for the council, handing out information, meeting and greeting the public and reporting incidents of vandalism, disrepair and other issues they see while they are out and about.Residents who live in the controlled parking zone would have the opportunity to buy a permit for an estimated £80 which would let them park in pay and display areas without paying an hourly charge but it still would not guarantee them a space.If approved, the proposals will be submitted to central Government which will have the final say on whether to allow the transfer, which would take place in March 2008. Leaflets on the consultation are currently being posted through people's doors. The deadline to fill out the survey in them is August 7. Displays with more detailed maps and information are available at the Winter Gardens from July 21 to August 4, from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and 10am-12noon on Saturdays. For more details or a copy of the leaflet call 01934 888802.

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