Parking plan driven out

PROPOSED changes to parking regulations in North Somerset - which could see people charged to leave their cars in the centre of Portishead - are to be reviewed

PROPOSED changes to parking regulations in North Somerset - which could see people charged to leave their cars in the centre of Portishead - are to be reviewed.North Somerset Council leaders announced this week they are to 'completely review' plans to introduce controlled parking zones as part of the handover of responsibility of parking from police to the local authority.The review follows concerns expressed by the council's executive members regarding the cost and complexities of the proposed operation.As part of the changes - which were due to come into force in Weston-super-Mare first - the authority planned to introduce special parking zones in town centres.The move sparked concern from trade and tourism bosses in Portishead who claimed charging for parking could deter people from visiting the town.Portishead Tourism Group chairman Ron Hazelton said: "At the moment we offer free parking and if this changes it may be that people think twice about coming to visit us."Council leaders admitted they had doubts about the scheme, which was first put forward a year ago.North Somerset Council executive member for strategic planning, highways and economic development, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, said: "To be honest we have always had doubts about the brief given to officers by the previous administration."Over the last four months I have been urging officers to find a simpler solution than one which requires 14 staff to run it and adds to the financial burden that residents and motorists already have to bear."Cllr Ap Rees said a consultation on the transfer of parking services scheme had proved disappointing, with only 400 replies from across the whole of the district.Cllr Ap Rees added: "Even that small sample showed us the degree of unhappiness from residents at plans to charge them and their visitors for parking and other residents who were worried that restrictions would push the problem on to their streets."We also had concerns from people who are generally opposed to the whole principle of parking meters and the effects of on-street charging."Currently Avon and Somerset Police are responsible for on-street parking enforcement but the Government is planning to pass this task and the associated costs on to local authorities. No date for the handover has yet been set and the council is now likely to wait until the powers are handed over rather than taking responsibility ahead of time.In the meantime the strategic planning and economic development policy and scrutiny panel (SPED) is to reconvene to look at other options to manage parking across the district.


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