Traders told 'no point opposing principle' of Bristol parking zones

May 23 2013

Around 250 people attended a meeting set up for local businesspeople to quiz the mayor and city transport officials on plans for residents' parking zones.

Around 250 people attended a meeting set up for local businesspeople to quiz the mayor and city transport officials on plans for residents' parking zones.

Traders were told the council wanted to hear about their businesses’ unique circumstances and discuss the details of the scheme, but Mayor George Ferguson said: "There’s no point opposing the principle, the roll-out has started.”

The event, chaired by Phil Smith of Business West, saw traders put questions on the scheme to the mayor and city transport officials Peter Mann and Alistair Cox.

Ahead of the question-and-answer session, Mr Ferguson told the audience: "This is a bigger issue than transport - it's about a healthy environment, a safe city for our children to walk and cycle to school.”

He said it was estimated that congestion on the roads costs businesses in the West £400 million a year and added that as well as adding to traffic, commuters also “freeze up” parking spaces across the city that could be used by shoppers.

He added: "I know so often change is judged more by fear than by hope and more by fear than by reality.

"I'm not up for reconsidering the principle - it has to happen, it's part of a much bigger scheme to improve public transport.”

Public transport in the city, including the fares and frequency of the services, proved to be a major issue for many at the meeting.

Ben Blackwood, bursar at Redland High School for Girls, said he welcomed safer routes to school for pupils but said his concern was for staff who travelled long distances by car to get to the school. He said: "Schools have to be in residential areas as that's where pupils are. Most of the teachers can't afford to live in Redland or Clifton. Many live a long way away, even those who live locally would need to take three or four buses and can't get there in time for the start of the school day.”

Don McCardle, of the Bread Store on Gloucester Road, said his five members of staff drove to work because there were no buses running at 3am when they left home in the morning.

Mr Ferguson responded: "I think this will result in a cultural change, it will result in time in people living closer to where they work."

Les Caunce, of City of Bristol College, raised concerns over the impact of parking proposals on the future of the college’s Ashley Down site, which caters for thousands of students and employs many staff, who, he added, all helped bring money into the Gloucester Road area.

The rise in cost of permits – revealed last week – was also raised, with one business owner asking if any concessions could be made for small businesses. Proposals would see the cost of a first business permit more than doubling from £100 to £240 and the second permit rising from £200 to £360. Customer permits - businesses are allowed to purchase five - would rise from £100 to £500.

The number of separate parking zones was also questioned, with one business owner saying the “map looks like a jigsaw”, while permits for “mobile businesses”, from plumbers to photographers, were also suggested. One trader from Cotham North – in the next phase in the parking zone scheme – told the meeting she believed the consultation now under way was too short and asked for responses from people in the area to be “ringfenced” to ensure they were taken into consideration.

Traders were all urged to fill in forms handed out at the meeting to give details of their businesses and their specific concerns and to contact the council at respark@bristol.gov.uk.

Mr Ferguson said: "I recognise your fears - residents' parking will be implemented because you are losing money from this being a congested city. That congestion is causing harm to our children through poor air quality, I’m quite sure you realise it’s a bigger picture and I have to take big decisions but all the detail is up for discussion.”