The campaign to see free parking introduced in Keynsham has received a major boost after councillors in Bath and North East Somerset voted in favour of implementing a free parking trial in the town.At a meeting of the B&NES Full Council last Thursday, councillors voted to approve a proposal tabled by Conservative councillors which calls on the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet to introduce free short-stay parking at Keynsham’s Ashton Way car park.
Conservative councillors argued that the introduction of free parking has received the support of High Street traders, the Town Council and local residents and would provide a boost to the local economy. The Conservative proposal would involve part of the town’s Ashton Way car park becoming chargeable long-stay parking in order to offset the cost of making the remainder of the car park free short-stay parking.
At the meeting, the ruling Liberal Democrat Group voted against the proposal, describing it as ‘the wrong thing to do’. However, the motion was passed with the Labour councillors also voting in favour. The result means that the Council’s Cabinet must now investigate the proposal and report back to the Council.
Cllr Marie Longstaff (Cons, Keynsham East), who moved the motion on behalf of the Conservative Group, said:
“We’re naturally delighted with this outcome, which finally brings us one step closer to seeing free parking introduced in Keynsham. However, the ball is now in the Lib Dems’ court. Even though Full Council has voted in favour of our plan, it is the Lib Dem Cabinet which gets the final say on whether or not to implement our proposal.”
Fellow Conservative councillor Kate Simmons (Keynsham South) seconded the proposal. Cllr Simmons added:
“The Conservative proposal will see free two-hour parking introduced at Ashton Way car park on a trial basis, with chargeable long-stay spaces created alongside to help ease pressure on nearby residential roads and offset some of the cost to the Council.
“This has the backing of local businesses and will make shopping trips more convenient for local residents. During the inevitably difficult construction period of the new town centre, it’s vital the Council does what it can to support the High Street and replace the free parking bays lost to the redevelopment. So we hope that the Cabinet responds to this request quickly and positively.”