Parking restrictions on Gloucester Road – are traders still concerned?

March 26 2018
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BACK in 2016, Bishopston Voice reported on a petition that traders submitted to Bristol City Council to introduce additional shopper parking in the area.

BACK in 2016, Bishopston Voice reported on a petition that traders submitted to Bristol City Council to introduce additional shopper parking in the area. It also called for a review of a “tidal parking" option, where the 7.30am-9.30am and 4.30pm-6.30pm clear way would be relaxed to allow short stay parking on the outbound side in the morning and inbound side in the evening.

The petition was unsuccessful. Two years on, we have  spoken to traders on Gloucester Road and other local stakeholders to find out whether the parking restrictions are still a concern for them, or whether things have changed.

Gordon Montgomery from The Centre For Better Grooves believes that the residents parking scheme is impacting on trade, and that the council should consider removing the bus lanes to make it easier for residents to shop. He said: “The decision to introduce a bus lane adversely affects late afternoon trade as shoppers can't park, shop and collect. Removing the public car park and introducing a residents’ parking scheme in and around Gloucester Road compounds the problem further, reducing demand.” 

Sarah Thorp, owner of Room 212 gallery feels that the restricted time allowed for parking is useful, but that the 4.30pm cut off has an adverse impact. She said: “It’s important that people don't park too long on Gloucester Road as we need a free flow of customers visiting our high street. However, the 4.30pm cut off is ridiculous. We are on a wide part of the road so when the traffic is bad, the parking bays remain empty. 

“Parked cars have no impact on traffic flow whatsoever. However, it means that we lose customers from 4.30pm onwards. As small independent shops, we need all the business we can get!'

Martin Hunt from Joe’s Bakery feels that the council’s budget limitations mean it is unlikely that any changes to parking restrictions on Gloucester Road will be made in the future. He said: “Parking on Gloucester Road has been an issue for a great many years and I have been involved in many discussions with both traders and council officers.   

“The truth is that I don’t think anything can be done for the better. The council’s budget limitations mean that even if they had the political will, then they wouldn’t have the funds anyway. I therefore strongly believe that the best thing to do is nothing, on the basis that at least traders have got used to the current system. This may sound defeatist to some, but I think it is just facing the reality.”

Commenting on behalf of their traders, Gloucester Road BID said: "We welcome ideas to find answers to congestion on Gloucester Road - it's going to take something innovative and possibly radical to improve this current situation and so we are always up for discussion on this subject."

The Bishopston Society, an active residents' group, shares traders' concerns about parking on Gloucester Road. Chairman Nick Plant said: “We wholeheartedly support our fantastic independent traders who sustain the lifeblood of our wonderful vibrant high street.

“We recognise parking as a live issue, and support a re-examination of transport options on Gloucester Road. It’s increasingly crowded, noisy and polluted, and ensuring shoppers have easy access to local shops rather than remote supermarkets is really important.

“We’d also advocate a close look at hard evidence to support a range of options, including robust evidence on how Gloucester Road shoppers reach their desired retailers and social venues. 

"Let’s find out how much Gloucester Road’s economy is really reliant on car parking, and keep an open mind on alternatives for mutual benefit.”

Tom Brook, Labour Co-op Councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down, also sympathises with the concern that some traders have expressed about how the bus lanes affect their businesses. 

He said: “This should be balanced, however, with the benefit gained by having the bus lanes, which mean that buses can be more reliable, encouraging more people to choose public transport. The idea of a tidal parking scheme is interesting and I assume there would be pros and cons to it. 

“What I think would be more effective, however, is the provision of increased sustainable alternatives to encourage more shoppers to leave their cars behind in the first place.”