PARKING: Council's fines kitty hits £1m in just two years as businesses suffer 'dampened trade'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 September 2019
Parking wardens have collected more than £1million in parking fines since returning to Weston's streets.
North Somerset Council accrued £1,055,004 in parking penalty charges in its first two years in charge of enforcement, a Mercury freedom of information request has revealed.
The authority took control of civil parking enforcement (CPE) from police in April 2017, with wardens returning to the streets for the first time in several years.
In addition to the penalties, the council collected £681,544 from on-street pay-and-display charges in the 2018/19 financial year.
At its off-street car parks - including the seafront - North Somerset earned £2,431,279 in charges, plus a further £103,693 in fines, in 2018/19.
The council's parking policies have been heavily criticised by Weston town centre's businesses, shoppers and residents - with many feeling they are adversely affecting the town.
Following's May's elections, which brought a new administration, the council has re-launched a review of its policies - with hopes of increasing fairness and affordability.
Sam Walker, boss of High Street fashion retailer Walker & Ling, believes Weston's parking regulations are 'one of several things dampening trade', and he is pleased the council has launched a fresh review of its policies.
He said: "As a High Street business, we rely on customers having a few hours of easy and affordable access to the area, and for most that means sensibly-priced parking.
"We understand the council needs to make money from parking, and certainly we want an orderly town centre where people follow the rules and pay a fair price for parking.
"From what I can gather, the previous parking review was a sham - a foregone conclusion administered by councillors with conflicting interests - and they were deaf to any sensible discussion with the local business community.
"I am very encouraged to hear the new council is listening."
Mike Bell, North Somerset's deputy leader and councillor for Central ward, believes it was 'the right approach' to introduce on-street charges and CPE.
He said: "We had many years of a parking free-for-all which didn't help residents or businesses. However, neither was introduced in a well-thought-out way.
"The challenge now is to make affordable and fair changes to improve the situation.
"Top of my wishlist are three things. First, a parking permit scheme so that residents in the town centre have a fighting chance of parking near their home. Second, some free parking options in the town centre to encourage visitors and shoppers. Third, a fair enforcement charter so everyone is clear what the rules are and how they will be enforced."