A BATTLE is looming over the future of Bristol’s controversial Residents’ Parking Schemes.
The city council has increased many permit charges and is planning a major review of all 18 zones amid speculation that they could be scrapped after the city’s cabinet member for transport said they were “outdated”.
But residents and green campaigners say the problem is the zones don’t go far enough – and they’ll continue to fight to get them extended.
Green councillor for Redland Martin Fodor told the Voice the new charges will cause more problems in the short term – by pushing parking into areas which are next to an existing RPS, exacerbating problems.
“As soon as a zone starts, the areas next to them have a problem,” he said.
“The minute you are on the edge of a zone you get road safety and parking chaos.
“The income from permits and charges in zones pays for the zone and enforcement within the zone, but outside that, areas are unmanaged and chaotic.”
The RPS zones in Montpellier and Redland are said to cause overspill into neighbouring un-restricted parts of Bishopston and St Andrews.
At its northern edge the Redland zone results in increased parking in Westbury Park and Henleaze.
The RPS system was largely credited to Bristol’s first Mayor, George Ferguson, who had a policy of creating more zones from 2013. But in 2016 when Marvin Rees became Mayor he halted further expansion.
Councillor Fodor says the result is that many neighbourhoods find themselves split, with some streets having controlled parking, and some with a free-for-all.
He wants to see RPS extended further into areas of the city where parking congestion is less of a problem, in order to encourage people to leave their cars behind and take public transport, walk or cycle.
Last month the Bristol City Council Cabinet voted to remove price reductions provided to low emissions vehicles, (currently free below 100g CO2 and half price between 101 and 110g CO2), increase the cost if second permits, from £112 to £224, and third permits from £224 to £560. In the Central Parking Zone, annual permits will rise from £50 to £250.
BCC says the increased charges are projected to bring an additional income of just under half a million pounds a year.
Cabinet member for transport Councillor Don Alexander said he believed higher charges would persuade many owners to ditch their cars.
He told cabinet that the forthcoming major review would gather evidence to see how effective RPS zones actually were.
He said: “We need to know are these working to achieve the outcomes that we want.
“What we do know is that zones encourage short car journeys within them because they allow people to keep their cars, who wouldn’t necessarily need to keep a car, for rather a cheap cost.
“The growth of development in the city centre creates pressure on the zones as well as discriminating between new residents and old, and traffic levels in the city centre have not been successfully reduced.
“RPZs are an outdated approach and our direction of travel is liveable neighbourhoods and building homes in sustainable central locations.
“The constant calls for more RPZs without evidence is moving a problem around without a real solution. After almost a decade of the zones being in place it’s important we take the opportunity to re-evaluate the role they play.”