Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected pleas from local traders in Bath for the cost of some on-street and evening parking charges in the city to be reduced.
At a B&NES Council meeting last July, in response to a petition organised by local traders and signed by over 1,400 people, Councillors voted to back a Conservative motion which called upon the Liberal Democrat-run authority to reverse hikes of up to 41% in on-street parking charges resulting from the creation of a so-called ‘ultra-premium’ zone in the city centre, which includes areas such as Milsom Street and Laura Place.
In addition, as a result of fears over the impact on the evening economy, Councillors also asked the authority reverse a 366% rise in the cost of evening parking at Charlotte Street car park, by either reinstating a cheaper 6pm-8pm rate, or changing the start-time for free evening parking from 8pm to 7pm.
However, in a letter from the Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Transport to her Conservative opposition counterpart, B&NES has rejected the idea of taking any steps to reduce the cost of on-street parking within the ‘ultra-premium’ zone, and has ruled out bringing forward the start-time for the free evening parking rate from 8pm to 7pm.
However, the Cabinet Member did state that the Council would look into the possibility of the reintroducing a reduced evening parking rate between 6pm and 8pm at Charlotte Street car park.
Opposition Conservative Councillors have expressed disappointment at the announcement, and have accused the Council’s ruling Liberal Democrats of treating the city’s motorists as an easy ‘cash cow’.
Conservative shadow transport spokesman Councillor Anthony Clarke (Cons, Lansdown) said:
“It’s clearly very disappointing that the Lib Dems have refused to listen to the genuine concerns of both traders within the city centre, as well as the residents who are being hit in the wallet by these hikes in evening and on-street parking charges.
“Such large rises in the cost of parking are seen as just another unfair stealth tax on residents and risk harming our local economy.
“Given the amount of money B&NES will expect to rake-in from these price rises, the Council’s argument that it hopes the higher parking charges will reduce the number of cars coming into the city centre seems rather spurious. There are clearly better ways of cutting traffic coming into Bath – such as getting on with the long-awaited eastern Park and Ride.”
Councillor Clarke added:
“The one glimmer of hope is that B&NES admits that its hikes in evening parking charges are impacting upon the evening economy, and so has agreed to look at reinstating the cheaper 6pm-8pm rate at Charlotte Street car park. We’ve waited long enough for the Lib Dems to produce their response to this petition – they now need to get on with it.”