Monday, 25 March 2013


WARNING: Controversial post!

Our newly elected mayor, George Ferguson, has announced the introduction of Residents' Parking Schemes in 7 new areas across the city (including mine).

His decision has sparked a flurry of protests in the press and across the social media sites.

I've taken some time to read the details and, when consulted, will have no hesitation in voting for the proposal.

Our nation has become over dependent on the motor car.  I'm not denying the benefits it brings in terms of personal freedom and independence, nor the lifeline it offers the disabled, the elderly and those who live in remote locations.  However there is a price to pay and we are all (motorists and non motorists alike) paying it.  Our motorways and city centres are rapidly becoming gridlocked, air pollution has reached unacceptable levels, parents do not consider it safe enough to allow their children to play out in the streets, high streets are being deserted in favour of out of town shopping centres, the population is increasingly obese, the temperature of the earth's atmosphere continues to rise and we risk sparking catastrophic changes to the planet's climate systems.

So it seems to me, that a scheme whose aim is to reduce the number of cars on our city's streets, is well worth careful consideration.

As I understand it, it works like this.  Residents pay £30 a year for the right to park their car in their RPS area between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.  No permit is required by residents to park in the evenings or at weekends.  £30 a year works out at 58 pence per week or 8p per day.  Hardly a king's ransom.  Second cars are charged the slightly higher tariff of £80 a year (£1.54/week, 22p/day).  Third cars are considerably more expensive at £200 a year, but then again, I can't imagine there are many city streets that could accommodate 3-car households.

Each household can apply for 100 visitors' permits a year (the first 50 free of charge and the remainder at £1 per permit).  Given that visitors do not need a permit to park in the evenings or at the weekends, when I assume most visiting takes place, this allowance would enable you to have an average of 2 daytime visitors per week.

All other motorists will be restricted to pay and display bays, where they can park for up to 15 minutes free of charge and £1 per hour thereafter, to the maximum of 3 hours.

There are concessions for businesses, landlords, contractors, blue card holders and people with long term care needs.

The bottom line is that our present system is unsustainable and something has got to be done before  it is too late.  Sacrifices may need to be made but, rather than focus on the negatives I urge the people of Bristol to embrace the positives:

Reverse car dependency
Emptier streets
Shorter journey times
Cleaner air
Safer environment for pedestrians and children
People friendly city centres
Revival of local high streets
Encouragement to walk and cycle
Incentive to public transport providers to increase their routes and lower their fares
Reduction in carbon dioxide emissions

So go for it George.  This is exactly the sort of policy I hoped you would implement when I voted for you.

I would, however, make two suggestions.

I believe that these charges only apply to residents who do not have a driveway.  If the aim of the scheme is to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads then it shouldn't matter where your car is parked.  It's still a car.

Secondly, I'd like to see at least some of the revenue raised used towards providing a more efficient, less expensive public transport system as a credible alternative to the car.

So, if you live in Bristol what do you think of the scheme?  If you live elsewhere, do you have a similar scheme?  How effective has it been in creating a better environment?


  1. Yes, I’m generally in favour too (I completed a questionnaire on this a few years back). Some observations:
    a)Unfortunately, I imagine they’ll only propose the scheme in “straightforward” areas.
    b)I suspect there will be many areas that will have too many resident cars and not enough potential designated RPS spaces – this is exacerbated in areas like ours, where some houses have converted basements into flats and rely entirely on street parking – which, sadly, would probably therefore be excluded from the scheme (the same applies to very narrow streets where cars end up parking on pavements).
    c)One of the real bonuses would be that they would HAVE to ensure that Rule 243 of the Highway Code was implemented. This states: “DO NOT stop or park opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space” (this isn’t dependent on RPSs, of course – but WOULD require enforcement by traffic wardens/police… which certainly doesn’t happen at present!). Wheelchair users and buggy-pushing parents/grandparents would rejoice!
    d)The Council would have to employ far more Traffic Wardens (abuse of the scheme, without suitable control or monitoring, would no doubt cause an awful lot of neighbourhood friction!).

    1. The map on the council website indicates that the scheme will eventually be rolled out across central Bristol. It doesn't guarantee anyone a parking space outside their own front door and, you're right, there won't be enough spaces for everyone. So no improvement on the current situation but it may make residents think twice before buying a second (or third!) car. It will be interesting to see how well it is policed and whether any of the excess revenue raised will be used to provide a more efficient and less expensive public transport system.