August 15, 2015
Controversial Highbridge parking shake-up defended by resident

Controversial plans to introduce new residents parking permits in a residential area of Highbridge have been defended by a resident championing the scheme.

We first reported here on Friday that Somerset County Council wants to make a number of changes to parking arrangements "to find a solution to residents' parking problems", however some residents say they have not been properly consulted about the scheme.

The council's TRO (Traffic Regulation Order), which can be viewed here, proposes that a mixture of Permit Holder Only Zones and No Parking Zones are introduced to address parking issues in Newtown Road, Cuthbert Street, Tyler Way, Ladd Close, King Street and Scott Road.

Resident Sarah Buchanan, who is the 'community champion' for the scheme, told "The parking situation is absolutely dire on Newtown Road. Most days it's impossible to park, so following over-the-fence moans with neighbours I was nominated to try for a residents parking scheme (RPS). In August last year I followed the procedure as dictated by Somerset County Council to qualify and apply for an RPS."

"28 out of the 47 questionnaires which were personally hand delivered into each and every letter box on Newtown Road were returned. 100% of those returned said that there were issues with parking and that either lack of parking spaces or commuters/shoppers/builders parking were causing problems."

She added: "County Councillor John Woodman came to my house and we discussed the matter at length and agreed there was an issue and he put me in touch with the Traffic & Transport Development Group at Somerset County Council who listened to us and agreed that we should try and implement a RPS."

"However, a RPS in Newtown Road will simply move the issues to Cuthbert Street and King Street where the problem will continue and Cuthbert St is already at breaking point, and as Sedgemoor District Council refuses to increase the parking provision by turning the verges at the Apex Park end of Newtown Road into parking the 40 houses will continue to vie for the 20 car parking spaces. Hence the zone was increased to cover the area."

"This scheme is at the consultation phase and SCC have guaranteed that no scheme will be implemented if there are objections, so there would have to be tweaks. SCC have been unfairly accused of acting as 'incredibly underhand and sneaky' in the notification of this scheme, but this is simply not true - they have been nothing but helpful and informative in their mission to assist in our problems."

Sarah added: "I don't agree with paying to park your car and especially in a deprived area like Highbridge where every penny is crucial, so initially I contacted Tessa Munt who refused to help me champion a cause to encourage more cars to use the car park by changing the prices. It would have encouraged more people and made more revenue. After all, who would pay to park in Highbridge when it hasn't got enough to offer currently to draw people in. So this is how an RPS came about - it's not ideal, but no-one else was interested in helping us."


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