14 July 2018
As District Councillors for the ward of Wotton-under-Edge, we recognise local concerns that the introduction of car parking charges threatens the viability of the high street in Wotton, and that for some people, a car is the only option.
We note that car parking does have a cost and introducing charges could help reduce pollution and congestion - and encourage walking and cycling.
Here are our initial views - and we would like to hear yours.
We propose that the first two hours of parking are freeProviding free short-stay parking in Wotton will meet the needs of local shops and businesses – and stop trade being pushed away to other towns like Yate in South Gloucestershire which have free parking. We recognise the need to support businesses to keep the high street alive, given the increase in internet and out of town shopping.
We want to minimise costs and risks to residentsTwo hours free parking will reduce the impact of charging on local residents, many of whom make shorter, more frequent trips to the shops. This initial free period would also help to address the road safety concerns, particularly for parents and children going to Blue Coat primary school, since drivers are less likely to park “just for 2 minutes” in a dangerous place putting pedestrians and other road users at risk.
We should trial this approach for one yearThere is some evidence that charging will free up spaces, making it easier for people to come to Wotton to do their shopping and enjoy community facilities like Wotton Pool and voluntary activities. But we know that local traders and residents are worried about the impacts of charging, so we should proceed cautiously. Monitoring should be put in place to see after one year what the effect of charging has been on the high street, vehicles parking in residential streets and any other unexpected impacts.
We must not penalise town centre residents without on-street parkingOur historic market town was not built with cars in mind. With narrow roads and limited on-street parking, The Chipping and Potters Pond car parks are the only place for some residents to park their vehicles. We're all aware how useful car transport is in more rural locations, given the sadly appalling public transport options. To avoid penalising residents, their annual permit charges should be set at a reasonable level.
We need to improve the car park facilities and support the townThere has been very little maintenance of Wotton car parks in recent years. We need better spacing for parking bays, Electric Vehicle charging points and more cycle racks for use by both residents and visitors. These improvements will help to make the town more welcoming. Any extra money that’s generated from parking charges in Wotton should be spent on local services which support the town.
We believe charging can make the town more accessible to touristsThe main area of growth for rural market towns like Wotton will be through tourism - with cycling and walking tourism a big draw in the Cotswolds. Many visitors travelling by car are more influenced by the availability and convenience of parking rather than the cost, where the charges are modest. Charging will also allow tourists to contribute to the costs of car park maintenance - which otherwise will be met in full by local council tax payers.
Charging for car parks is already in place across the District in Stonehouse, Painswick and Stroud, and has helped to manage parking in these busy centres.
A decision on the introduction of charges for car parks has not yet been made.
Please share your views! Reply before 29 July to the consultation here
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