By Harry Mottram. With the county elections approaching in May the Liberal Democrat controlled Bath and North East Somerset Council has come under sustained fire from opposition councillors over Residents’ Parking Zones (RPZs).
Lambridge’s representative Cllr Joanna Wright of the Green Party has criticised the scheme in the east part of the city.
She accused the Council of having wasted tens of thousands of pounds, with ‘years of planning, and endless consultations only to impose seven badly thought-out RPZs.’
Her point was that RPZs were put in place as part of the Council’s policy but had disrupted ‘thousands of residents and workers without giving them alternatives to driving to work, shops, or schools.’
She said the Residents Parking Zone proposals for Walcot, Snow Hill, and Claremont Road ‘will affect over 11,000 people in Walcot and Lambridge, yet nearby areas will not be covered, making the logic of the new zones questionable.’
As with RPZs in other parts of Bath the main issue is the removal of free on-street parking meaning those looking for somewhere to park use neighbouring streets.
This creates difficulties for residents there who find commuters and others have taken all the spaces. And for those who cannot afford a residents permit to park then they have to park further away from their home.
The Conservatives are also critical of RPZs. Their transport spokesman, Graham Pristo, said: “This LibDem Council has a blinkered anti-motorist agenda, and is imposing its dogmatic view on the city, even when local residents say they don’t agree.
“Resident-only parking is a blunt instrument to use to try to control traffic. It can cause serious unintended consequences. Local residents’ wishes need to be respected: if people in a street want such controls, then they should be supported. But if they don’t, that view should be supported too.”
He said they had spoken to residents and businesses across the city, including in Chelsea Road in Newbridge and Moorland Road in Oldfield Park who fear that the impact of RPZs would be negative.
Pam Richards of the Labour Party in Bath said: “Bath Labour Party is committed to reducing congestion and improving air quality in Bath as part of a wider strategy to move to net zero climate targets. Surveys show that this is broadly supported by the public but there are no easy solutions.
“We’re concerned, like many, that the Lib Dem administration isn’t consulting with adequate transparency. This is yet another example of the Lib Dems’ failing to deliver for local communities.”
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrat run council have defended the introduction of RPZs on the basis that a majority of residents approve of them.
They point out that when consulted that 82% of Entry Hill residents were in favour there, people in Sion Hill and Summerhill Road showed 72.5% support and in Lyme Gardens and Charmouth Road the consultation showed 64% of residents were in favour.
However consultations in St John’s Road, St Michael’s Road and Hungerford Road area, Chelsea Road and Foxcombe Road Area and Oldfield Park and Westmoreland area were split suggesting there was not overwhelming support.
And in Walcot, Snow Hill and Claremont Road area a majority were against the scheme.
This year the Council will see RPZs introduced at St John’s Road, St Michael’s Road and Hungerford Road area; Chelsea Road and Foxcombe Road area ; Sion Hill and Summerhill Road area ; Entry Hill area; Lyme Gardens and Charmouth Road area; Walcot, Snow Hill and Claremont Road area; and the Oldfield Park and Westmoreland area.
Few would disagree with the overall objectives of RPZs which aim to tackle anti-social driving and commuter parking in residential streets.
The Council said the zones also support wider council policies that aim to reduce vehicle emissions and congestion and ensure fair consideration and equitable street space is given to those that would prefer to walk, wheel, scoot or cycle short trips.
This includes the council’s response to the climate and ecological emergencies in its Journey to Net Zero plan.
So the main issue of where the RPZs should go and the knock-on effects of their implementation to residents in particular.
Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, said: “As part of making this decision we have listened to residents, many of whom find it challenging to park near their homes because of commuter parking.
“Currently, too many motorists use these areas to ‘park and stride’, circling often narrow, residential streets to find free parking before heading into the city for the day.
“This is not something we can encourage if we are serious about tackling congestion, air pollution and our climate emergency. Instead, we want to encourage people to use our local buses, the park and ride sites, or to walk, scoot or cycle short journeys.”
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