Conservatives urge Lib Dems to ditch Midsomer Norton parking charges plans

Midsomer Norton’s Conservative councillors have spoken out against plans to introduce car parking charges at town centre car parks.

As part of their draft budget proposals for 2022/23, the Liberal Democrats who control Bath and North East Somerset Council have proposed introducing parking charges at car parks in Midsomer Norton and Radstock.

The Lib Dem administration says the proposals will save the council £75,000 over two years.

But local Conservative councillors Michael Evans and Chris Watt have spoken out against the charges, saying they will have a negative impact on high street businesses and will put people off coming into town.

Cllr Michael Evans, B&NES Conservative ward member for Midsomer Norton North, said: “Today we are calling on the Lib Dem administration to scrap plans to introduce car parking charges in Midsomer Norton and Radstock.

“High streets around the country have suffered as a result of parking charges being imposed, with shoppers forced to head to out-of-town locations and to rely more heavily on online trade. If shopping dies in Midsomer Norton, the food outlets will follow and the town will lose its community life.

“I urge the administration to observe the strength of feeling locally over this issue and do the right thing and bin these damaging proposals once and for all.”

Cllr Chris Watt, B&NES Conservative councillor for Midsomer Norton Redfield, said: “This latest cynical ploy by the B&NES Lib Dem administration to impose parking charges makes no attempt to hide their primary motivation – to raise money for their schemes in Bath.

“As the shopper survey carried out in 2016 clearly showed, free parking in the town is a key factor maintaining footfall. There is no consideration for what these proposed charges will mean for an already struggling Midsomer Norton high street and hospitality sector, nor the impact on those who work there.

“Throughout the pandemic, Midsomer Norton has not had the same support as Bath, with our leisure centre being denied the same financial support as those in Bath. This budget proposal now attempts to get our community to pay more and pick up the bill.”

Cllrs Evans and Watt argue that the proposals have not been subject to consultation by locals and have not been properly communicated by the council.