Pay more to park – unless you’re a resident.

Plans to give Bath and North East Somerset residents a discount in Bath’s council-run car parks have been announced as part of a major shake-up of parking charges that will also see Sunday on-street parking remaining free of charge.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is to set out proposals aimed at improving air quality and reducing congestion, which are based on listening to the views of local people and prioritising the needs of residents and disabled users, alongside continued support for local traders and independent businesses.

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As part of the Council’s efforts to tackle air pollution and encourage commuters and visitors to use the city’s Park & Rides or other public transport, the cost of long-stay parking will be increased under the Council’s proposals.  However, in order to support local shops and traders, any resident parking for three hours or less in one of the Council’s car parks will see the cost of parking either reduced or staying broadly the same.

Off street parking charges have not increased in the council-run off-street car parks since 2010 and this is the first major shake-up and reshaping of parking charges in eight years. However, Park & Ride prices will not be changed as part of this review.

The proposed new charging structure will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 7th February and, if approved, there will be a further period of public consultation before the new charges are introduced, anticipated to be later this year.

Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe), Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “We’ve listened to what residents have told us is important to them and from this we have developed the three key principles of putting residents first, improving air quality and making the park and ride even more of an attractive option compared to long stay parking in the city centre, whilst at the same time supporting our local shops and traders.

“We carried out an extensive consultation last year which showed broad support for the aims of our Parking Strategy, in particular using long-stay parking charges to encourage the use of Park & Rides or public transport.

“The aim of the new charging structure is therefore to encourage commuters and visitors to use the Park & Ride or public transport rather than driving into the city centre to park. At the same time, in order to support our local economy, we are planning to introduce a residents’ discount for that will mean the cost of parking for three hours or less remains the same or even reduced. This is about demonstrating our commitment to putting residents first, as well as supporting local business and tackling congestion and air pollution.

“In Keynsham we are proposing to freeze the cost of parking for up to three hours, and we are protecting the existing free parking in local community car parks across the area.

“Any revenue the Council raises from parking charges is used to support investment in local transport initiatives, such as Safer Routes to School schemes, as well as action to reduce traffic and tackle air pollution and to cover the cost of enforcement.”

The main changes being put forward by the Council include:

  • A new flat hourly rate of £1.60 will be introduced across all the Council’s off-street car parks in Bath, including Charlotte Street, Manvers Street and Avon Street, capped at a maximum charge of £15 a day.
  • All residents of Bath & North East Somerset will be eligible for a discount of 10% on both on-street and off-street parking charges in Bath, meaning the cost of short-stay parking for residents will either be reduced or broadly remain the same.
  • The discounted evening rate from 6pm at Charlotte Street car park will remain in place, as will the hour’s free parking at Royal Victoria Park.
  • The cost of Residents Parking Permits will be frozen at their current rate, meaning the cost of these permits has now been frozen since March 2013.
  • Free on-street parking will continue to be protected on Sundays for everyone.
  • In Keynsham, to support the High Street and local traders, the cost of parking for up to three hours will be frozen, with slight increases in the cost of long-stay parking.  The 4-hour charge in Keynsham is proposed to become 90p; the 8-hour charge £1.60; and the 10-hour charge £2.10.
  • The standard on-street parking charge in Bath, before a residents’ discount, would be £2.50 for the first hour, then an extra £1 for each hour thereafter.  The charge in the premium zone spaces would be £3.40 for the first hour, then an extra £1.10 for each hour thereafter. The charge in the ultra-premium zone spaces would be £3.80 for the first hour, then an extra £1.60 for each hour thereafter.  Most on-street parking is limited to a maximum of two-hours, though in some locations it is up to 4-hours.

The proposed changes to parking charges are in line with charges in other heritage cities such as Oxford and are designed to encourage commuters to make greater use of the park and ride, sustainable transport and public transport to reduce traffic pressures in the city centre.

In line with the commitment in the Parking Strategy to put residents first it is proposed that a discount of 10% against the advertised pay and display parking charges will be available to all Bath and North East Somerset residents when purchasing through the Council cashless provider.

Residents will be required to sign up to the service in order to prove residency before being able to access the discount, but the Council will endeavour to make this process as simple as possible. Further details of how the scheme will operate will be published in due course

Further details of the parking changes will be available in the Cabinet meeting agenda papers; published on Tuesday 30th January.