'There are as many problems and suggested solutions as there are cars on our roads'
Resident sums up challenge over parking
RESIDENTS have met Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire to discuss ways to tackle the issues of parking and traffic in Bishopston and St Andrews, writes Keri Beckingham.
The meeting was held on May 12 at the Kings Centre on Kings Square, and was attended by a hundred or so local people and councillors. During the meeting, ideas such as a shorter period for parking restrictions were discussed, as well as the suggestion that buses should be free to use; cycle racks offered; more use of double yellow lines to help emergency vehicles get through; tighter restriction on students bringing cars; and partial road closures to stop through traffic. Approximately two thirds of residents were also in favour of introducing a residents parking zone (RPZ) in the area.
One of the local councillors that attended the meeting was Martin Fodor, Green Party Councillor for Redland Ward. He told Bishopston Voice: “There were strong views for and against a parking permit scheme, with a majority in favour in a straw poll, and some undecided at the start of the meeting, but the group divided into smaller groups and many ideas and issues to be taken into account were then discussed in a respectful manner.
“The differences between streets with daytime or night time congestion was also pointed out (as an RPZ would only help during operational hours) and more need for enforcement of existing rules on parking and speeding was raised. In addition, it was noted that the various schemes around the city have differing hours (as much as 9am-9pm) and number of days (up to six days) and they have all been found popular in the recent reviews undertaken.”
Barry Cash, a local resident who was at the event, added: “Thangam Debbonaire did an excellent job of chairing a very difficult meeting. There are as many problems and suggested solutions as there are cars on our roads and also strong opinions. But as she pointed out, she has no power to act - only the city council can implement solutions.
“Her intention is to collect residents' views and collate them with the help of local councillors, then submit the result to Bristol City Council. She stressed that she wished to hear from all concerned, not just those who attend meetings. So if you have an opinion on parking, and who hasn't, email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Bishopston and St Andrews Traffic and Parking Group was set up to address problems in the area. Speaking after the meeting, a spokesman for the group said: “It was very encouraging to see just over 100 people attending the meeting, including three of our local councillors, Mike Davies (Ashley Ward), Martin Fodor (Redland Ward) and Carole Johnson (Ashley Ward). Thangam Debbonaire chaired the meeting with great warmth and firmness which helped to ensure that a wide range of views were expressed in a positive spirit.
“There was overwhelming agreement that there are important safety and quality of life issues associated with traffic and parking in the area, including increasing volumes of commuter parking in some streets, air pollution, emergency access, speeding, long-stay/unoccupied vehicles and pavement corner obstructions. Several small groups discussed a wide range of potential solutions including better enforcement, more communication and education about green travel, further analysis of traffic flows and journeys made, and more yellow lines as well as restricted parking interventions.
“Councillor Mike Davies gave a summary of how current parking schemes work and both he and Thangam described how schemes are different across parts of the city to accommodate local needs. Thangam took a number of straw polls to gauge feeling in the room. For example, there was majority support for dissuading commuters from parking in the area and about 65% felt that some form of RPZs should be part of the solution.
“It was acknowledged that it will be important to consult more widely in a range of ways, and Thangam suggested that emails on views are always happily received by herself or councillors. She also reminded us that she and her team regularly knock on constituents' doors and have conversations. Next steps are for councillors to review issues discussed and to compile a summary for attendees. Thangam has agreed to raise a number issues and concerns discussed with the council.
“The debate continues. We felt it was a very positive meeting and has given residents a chance to air some of their concerns and ideas. Thanks to Thangam and our local councillors for facilitating this meeting so well.”
Bishopston and St Andrews Traffic and Parking Group have launched an e-petition on Bristol City Council’s website, calling for them to “Please manage commuter parking and driving in Bristol”. To sign the petition, visit: democracy.bristol.gov.uk/mgEPetitionListDisplay.aspx