Lib Dems reject Keynsham free parking calls

Liberal Democrat-run Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected a plan which could have seen free short-stay parking introduced in Keynsham.

The decision comes despite repeated calls from residents and traders in the town and flies in the face of a vote by councillors which had backed proposals to create free parking in part of Keynsham’s Ashton Way car park.

Conservative councillors, who put forward the free parking proposals, have said they are bitterly disappointed by the decision and condemned the announcement by the Council’s ruling Liberal Democrats as ‘a slap in the face’ for Keynsham.

In answer to a question tabled by Councillor Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North) at B&NES Council’s Cabinet Meeting last week, Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Transport Roger Symonds said that he had decided against implementing free parking ‘based on the cost’, but did not give any details of the Council’s calculations.

It was however confirmed that seventeen free thirty-minute spaces would be created at Ashton Way car park to replace the existing free parking bays which will be lost as part of the civic centre demolition.

Keynsham councillor Marie Longstaff (Cons, Keynsham East), who moved the Council motion calling for the Cabinet to look into creating more free short-stay parking in Keynsham, slammed the decision.  She said:

“This refusal to implement free short-stay parking is a real slap in the face for our town’s residents and traders by the Lib Dems.  Government-backed studies into supporting local High Streets have called on Council’s to implement free parking, and our proposal had the backing of the majority of councillors in B&NES, so we’re naturally bitterly disappointed.

“We proposed making part of Ashton Way car park charged long-stay parking in order to help fund free short-stay parking in the remainder of the car park.  This would make shopping trips cheaper and easier for local residents, and provide a boost to local traders in our town.  We will not drop our arguments in favour of free parking in Keynsham.”

Cllr Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North) added:

“The Lib Dems have tried to trumpet the fact that a small number of free thirty-minute spaces will be created at Ashton Way car park.  But these are simply replacing what has already existed at the Civic Centre for years, and thirty minutes is not really long enough for a shopping trip.  This is not what traders have been calling for in Keynsham, and the Council should be going further.”