Parking review underway after 10-month wait

Winning councillors

Winning councillors - Credit: Archant

A long-awaited parking review has begun to try to address the problems in Weston town centre.

In a letter sent out to all councillors, North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton confirmed he has asked ‘senior officers and council colleagues to undertake a complete review of parking and traffic flow’ across North Somerset.

Cllr Ashton promised a cross-party review in January, but despite several appeals from councillors, it appears officers will carry out the analysis.

In his letter, Cllr Ashton said he wants to ‘find a better balance between the needs of residents, guests, shoppers, workers and visitors’.

The review will also look at car parking charges, which Cllr Ashton said had got out of hand earlier this year.

More: How much money is made from parking charges amid promises of review.

He said: “At this stage I am asking you to identify the key issues rather than suggest solutions, so that all views can be identified before we consider the options and process for dealing with them.”

Councillors representing Weston’s central and hillside wards have been inundated with complaints from residents about not being able to park outside their homes as commuters seek free spaces outside the town. Some businesses say they have also suffered a decline in footfall due to the authority’s parking policies.

More: Council leader: Car parking charges have ‘got out of hand’...but will rise anyway.

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The councillors fear they will not be able to put forward their solutions, despite representing the residents who are most affected.

Cllr Mike Bell, who represents central ward for North Somerset, said: “The review was promised to me by Cllr Ashton in January as a cross-party approach.

“I asked again what was happening in April and August and tabled a motion on parking to the September council. At each stage a cross-party, open approach was promised.

“In eleven months, no cross-party meetings have taken place and no public consultation has been announced, which is disappointing.

“I welcome the approach finally being made to town and parish councils and North Somerset councillors, but why is it taking so long and why have residents and businesses not been involved?

“Cllr Ashton is right that we need to take a sensible, evidence-led approach and that no solution is perfect. However, the council simply must listen to residents and businesses and not assume that it knows best.”

More: ‘Affordable parking permits are needed’ in Weston.