Bedminster businesses upset over parking restrictions

November 07 2015
Residents' Parking November 2015

RESIDENTS parking has reached Bedminster after months of waiting – and opinion is divided.

RESIDENTS parking has reached Bedminster after months of waiting – and opinion is divided. 

As the Bedminster East scheme gets under way, and the Southville scheme prepares to start on November 23, some residents welcome the freedom to park near their home without fighting commuters for a space.

But some businesses say their trade has been badly hit and are furious because they say the plan was not properly explained.

Daniel Cleary, owner of Fiddlers music club in Willway Street, had no idea that single yellow lines in his quiet back street were to disappear.

Parking is vital for many of his guests because the club closes at 2am, when buses are scarce.

“We have already been badly affected – when local band Doreen Doreen play we normally get 250-300 people. Last Saturday we had 130 – half what we expected,” he said.

Mr Cleary fears the business may not survive, but says he has been told to wait six months for the restrictions to be reviewed.

Mayor George Ferguson said Fiddlers had not responded to the RPS consultation.

Mr Cleary said he knew of no meeting where he could object – and in any case it wasn’t clear the yellow lines would change.

Mr Ferguson insists that a 30-minute free parking rule means the fears of most anti-RPS firms have not been realised.

But traders in Bedminster Parade do not agree. They say trade has been badly hit by double yellow lines which are not only putting off customers but also make deliveries difficult.

Robert Lopresti, boss at the long-established Lopresti Ice Cream business, says firms have seen takings fall significantly. No one can stop to get a haircut at Vince’s, a takeaway coffee from Grounded or look at the goods in Bristol Bargain Furniture, he said.

In theory deliveries are allowed on a double yellow line for up to 10 minutes – but there are automatic cameras focused on the road, and drivers fear getting a ticket through the post.

“No one realised this was going to happen or we would have been battling before now,” said Mr Lopresti.

With Mr Cleary at Fiddlers, the traders have made a 2,000-
name petition calling for a review. 

Celia Phipps, a Labour councillor for Bedminster, says experiences are mixed. “Whether you’re for or against seems to depend on where you live. It’s a 50:50 split: people near Asda want the scheme but those at the other end feel there’s no need.”

But she is concerned the scheme will lead to more parking on the edge of the zone.

“People are right to be worried, they are not happy with a one-size-fits-all solution. Plenty of Bedminster, around the Chessels for example, is already full of cars – where will any traffic shifted by the scheme park? 

“We need a new station at Ashton Gate as part of an integrated transport plan. The issue is the funding.”

At business consultancy Towncentred, boss George Grace wanted to see North Street kept for pay and display (P&D) with some shared parking for shoppers on neighbouring streets. 

Instead, the Southville zone will have some residents’ spaces on North Street, with the nearest shared spaces some distance away on Upton Road.

“We are deeply disappointed that almost no regard has been taken for [...] a constructive solution that balanced the needs of traders and residents,” he said.

At least one firm, however, sees the RPS in a positive light. Peter Wise, director at Minuteman Press in Bedminster Parade, said: “So far it’s been good – it’s kept things moving.”

He says the car park at the end of the Parade is much freer as commuters have been stopped from dumping cars there all day.

The scheme has also forced Minuteman to look at the way it does business, said Mr Wise. It has drastically reduced its use of vehicles – each member of staff now walks, cycles or gets public transport to work.

Even daily deliveries take place on an electric bike. The moves have put Minuteman in line for a possible award later this month from TravelWest.

Charlie Bolton, Green councillor for Southville, is also behind RPSs, though he feels implementation has been poor.

“Overall, I support residents parking schemes. If I ruled the world, there are a number of aspects I would look at. These are how it works for people with mobility issues, how it works for those on low incomes, and how it works for local traders.”

But Cllr Bolton does not think we can carry on as we are. “The problem in some areas of Southville is commuters. In most areas, it is simply the numbers of vehicles owned by residents. You could look at the idea of having car free developments. RPS could be a mechanism for doing this. We need to big up cycling, walking and public transport,” he said.