Conservative councillors representing Midsomer Norton have spoken out against the possibility of ending free parking in the town.
At a meeting of B&NES Council’s Planning, Transport and Environment scrutiny committee last Thursday, 26 July, Midsomer Norton councillors Paul Myers and Michael Evans spoke of their objections to the potential for charging to be introduced in the town.
The cross-party panel of councillors considered a report by the Lib Dem-run authority on its car park charging strategy, which appeared to open the door to the possibility of charging at free car parks outside of Bath.
The report described these free car parks as an ‘anomaly’ and stated that ‘free unrestricted parking generally is filled by those who are staying for long periods reducing the opportunity for visitors to park’ and that the Council would consider the ‘option of implementing charges where necessary to resolve this issue’.
Conservative councillors have challenged these proposals and at the meeting called upon the panel to object to them. The panel agreed to pass on the concerns raised to the Council’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet Member for Transport and parking officers.
Following the meeting, Councillor Paul Myers (Cons, Midsomer Norton Redfield) said:
“We were aghast when we saw that B&NES was considering the possibility of bringing in charges at free car parks outside of Bath, such as ours in Midsomer Norton. We attended this panel meeting to make our views clear and try and stop this in its tracks.
“The community has done a huge amount of work in recent years to improve Midsomer Norton and make it more attractive for both residents and visitors, such as cleaning up the river and tackling litter. Yet B&NES seems to be working against us, not with us. Introducing parking charges at South Road would have a hugely negative impact on the High Street, and we would fiercely oppose it if this were to happen.”
Cllr Michael Evans (Cons, Midsomer Norton North) added:
“At the panel meeting, Council officers assured us they are not planning new or increased parking charges this year, which was good. But this still raises concerns about future years, both for us here in Midsomer Norton and in other areas which currently benefit from free parking.
“I have already had one business owner on the phone saying they would have to leave Midsomer Norton if parking charges came in. Residents and traders in Midsomer Norton need confidence and reassurance at this time to invest in our town. There is clearly a correlation between the provision of free parking and footfall within a town centre, and for the Council to suggest otherwise is simply wrong.”