Motorists hit hard in council budget
Drivers are set to pay a high price to help Bristol City Council bridge a £19.5million budget gap, including the end of free parking at parks and green spaces.
Disabled residents will also be charged for the first time for dedicated vehicle bays outside their homes, while fees will be introduced at 15 car parks where it is currently free.
The proposals are revealed in the authority’s annual budget, expected to be rubber-stamped by the Labour cabinet on Tuesday, January 18, ahead of the final decision at full council on February 15 where the other parties will table their alternative ideas.
Mayor Marvin Rees revealed last week that the 30-minute free stay at Residents’ Parking Zones (RPZs) would be axed to raise £500,000, and hinted at other price hikes.
More details have now emerged in the papers to Tuesday’s meeting, including continued enforcement of Bristol Bridge bus gate restrictions, with fines set to reap a further £700,000, and the controversial expansion of parking fees at green spaces.
Charges are already being introduced at Blaise Estate, Oldbury Court and Ashton Court but the plan is now to extend these to the remaining 13 car parks managed by the council’s parks service, with about £80,000 raised to be allocated to maintaining and improving the city’s green areas.
The car parks and on-street spaces are at: Redcatch Park, St Annes, Dundridge, Netham. Horfield Common/Ardargh, Eastville Park, Kings Weston Estate/Shirehampton, Crews Hole Woodland, Stoke Park, Hengrove Park, Bedminster Down, Eastwood Farm and Muller Road.
One of the justifications cited in the cabinet report to introduce the as-yet-unknown costs is to prevent road rage.
It said: “The vehicle waiting proposals should contribute to improved highway safety by reducing the potential for conflict in the vicinity of the proposed waiting restrictions.
“The proposal will encourage a turnover of visitors so that the opportunity to have access to a parking space could improve.
“An indirect effect of a reduction in the availability of on-street parking could be to encourage people to take up active forms of sustainable transport such as walking and cycling, which would deliver significant health benefits to the individual.”
A review would be undertaken of all free car parks the council operates “with a view to introducing appropriate charges”, raising another £120,000.
These are at Clayton Street, Ridingleaze, Waverley Road, Callington Road, Repton Road, Alexandra Park (currently closed), Beechwood Road, Stoke View, Queens Road, Machin Road, Ducie Road, Chalks Road, Derby Street, Harden Road and Westbury Hill.
There would be no charge or time limit for blue badge holders, the report said.
The idea of charging disabled people, who have no reasonable off-street parking, to install spaces near their homes would save the authority £100,000, although this would only recover the actual costs involved, it said.
“The proposal is likely to have a disproportionate impact on disabled people and their carers – especially those living in low-income households unless there are concessions/waived fees,” the report said.
A full review of charges across all council-owned car parks and on-street parking bays will also be carried out, followed by public consultation, with the intention of increasing fees in the city centre to collect an extra £800,000.
Another budget proposal to increase pay-and-display hourly rates in Bristol’s 15 RPZs from £1 to £1.30 and hike the price of parking permits and visitor vouchers by 17 per cent in all but one of them, in line with inflation since they were introduced, was agreed by cabinet members last month.
Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter