A ‘partial victory’ in the campaign to bring free parking to Keynsham town centre has been welcomed Conservative councillors in Keynsham.
Bath and North Somerset Council has announced that a limited amount of free short-stay parking will created at the town’s Labbott car park. However, residents will have to wait until at July at the earliest for the plans to be implemented and the Council has yet to state exactly how many free spaces will be created.
The announcement comes following a long-running campaign by local traders, backed by the town’s Conservative councillors, and marks a significant climb-down for the Liberal Democrat-run authority, which had resisted previous attempts to introduce free parking in the town.
Conservative councillors have welcomed the news that B&NES has dropped its opposition to free parking and have said that if the trial proves successful they hope the council will make the change permanent and look at increasing the amount of free parking available.
Cllr Marie Longstaff (Cons, Keynsham East) moved a council motion last year calling for free parking to be introduced. She said:
“It’s a shame it’s been such a long and difficult process to get to this point, but it’s really positive news that Keynsham is finally set to benefit from some free short-stay parking.
“Local traders are to be congratulated for campaigning tirelessly to see this implemented. If ever there was a welcome U-turn from the council, this is one of them.
“We see this as a partial victory as it looks like the Council will only be introducing a limited amount of free parking and still not for another few months. B&NES has had since February to work on this, so if the Lib Dems hadn’t been dragging their feet then it could have been implemented much sooner. Nonetheless, it’s good news that B&NES has finally seen sense.”
The decision to introduce free parking in Keynsham has been taken after Conservative councillors successfully forced through an amendment to the Council’s budget in February which earmarked the funding necessary to allow free parking to be created during the town centre redevelopment.
Cllr Alan Hale (Cons, Keynsham South) added:
“The reason we backed this campaign is because it’s vital for the Council to support local traders during the difficult construction period of the new town hall. Free parking will make shopping trips cheaper and easier for residents and help support the High Street and Temple Street. It’s crucial that our town centre does not lose ever more trade to out of town shopping centres elsewhere.
“We hope that if this limited amount of free parking is deemed successful and beneficial then B&NES will consider extending it and making it permanent.”