Proposed changes to parking rules will hit motorists hard

Motorists in Bath and North East Somerset will be asked to pay more to park their cars under new plans drawn up by B&NES Council.

The Liberal Democrat Administration is looking at introducing a number of measures to discourage what they call “unnecessary car ownership”.

The proposals include basing residents’ parking permit charges on vehicle emissions, increasing the cost of on-street parking and implementing on-street charges on Sundays. Prices for long-stay parking in Bath will also be increased to discourage commuter trips.

The plans are still subject to consultation. But the Council’s Conservative opposition has already outlined a number of objections.

The Conservative Group is concerned that proposals to introduce residents’ permit charges based solely on vehicle emissions will see those unable to afford to upgrade their cars to more environmentally-friendly models hit hardest.

The Conservatives are also concerned that proposals to start charging people to park on Sundays will hamper Bath’s economic recovery post-COVID and that a wider increase in parking charges will affect those in the lowest income brackets, effectively pricing them out of some areas of the district.

One example of the proposed rise in on-street parking charges will see prices at Victoria Park increase over the next three years from £8.60 to £9.80 for a four hour stay, an increase of 14%.

Cllr Paul Myers, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “Once again the Liberal Democrats are seeking to impose policies that demonise and punish those who rely on cars to get around.

“Electric vehicles are currently more expensive than equivalent internal combustion engine vehicles and are not projected to reach price parity until the mid-2020s. People in B&NES unable to afford to switch to more environmentally-friendly vehicles will therefore be unfairly penalised.

“As we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the local economy would surely benefit from allowing people to continue to park for free on Sundays. For the same reason, an increase in parking charges across the board will only serve to keep people out of Bath rather than encourage them in, which is what we should be doing.

“We support the Council’s ambition of achieving cleaner air in Bath, but motorists are being asked to fork out even more money just to park their cars. Car owners should not have to pay more simply to appease the Administration’s anti-motoring agenda.”

A public consultation on the proposals is due to take place later this year, and the Conservative Group is urging the Administration to ensure the public’s concerns are taken into account.