Bath and North East Somerset Council appears to have rejected calls for free short-stay parking to be introduced in Keynsham, despite no official announcement being made by the Liberal Democrat-run authority.
A Traffic Order stating that parking charges will remain at 40p for two hours across the town’s main car parks has been published by the Council, sparking anger from the town’s Conservative councillors who have accused B&NES of keeping residents and traders in the dark.
It had been hoped that free parking would be introduced on a temporary trial basis during the town centre reconstruction after Conservative councillors successfully earmarked up to £100,000 to implement the scheme in the Council’s budget in February.
However, the Council’s ruling Liberal Democrat councillors have consistently rejected calls for free parking to be introduced in Keynsham, despite agreeing to drop plans to roll-out parking charges throughout other parts of the district.
Conservative councillor Marie Longstaff (Cons, Keynsham East) tabled the proposal which earmarked funding to deliver free parking in the Council budget. She said:
“Yet again it seems that local residents, the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the Keynsham Town Team are all being treated with a total disregard by B&NES.
“We sincerely hope that this was a mistake by B&NES and they haven’t actually made up their minds to reject free parking. The Council should have the courtesy of keeping all interest parties informed of their decision announce their decision in the proper fashion. We won’t let this matter lie.”
Fellow Keynsham councillor Kate Simmons (Cons, Keynsham South), who moved a motion at a Council meeting last year calling for free parking to be introduced, said:
“It’s disgraceful that B&NES appears to have taken a decision not to implement our free parking proposal without even having the courtesy to inform anyone. They have simply slipped out a traffic order which states that parking charges will remain the same. We hope this isn’t case and are pressing the Council to reverse this announcement.
“The way this has been handled shows an utter contempt from this Labour-backed Lib Dem administration for residents and traders in Keynsham, who are crying out for the Council to support them during the town centre rebuild.”
Conservative councillors in Keynsham have also called on the Council to do more to mitigate the impact of the closure of the multi-storey car park by looking into the possibility of putting on a shuttle bus for Council employees into the town.