July 11, 2017
Burnham-On-Sea resident calls for end to parking chaos in side streets

A Burnham-On-Sea resident has this week called on councillors to reduce parking charges - or scrap them altogether - to reduce 'growing parking problems' in side streets across the town.

Nick Hubbard, pictured, addressed town councillors about the issue of crowded side streets surrounding the town centre during a meeting on Monday evening (July 10th).

"I believe very strongly that town centre parking in Burnham-On-Sea is a growing problem - parking charges should be heavily subsidised or even free," he said.

"There are three main reasons for this - one is that expensive and inconvenient parking is a deterrent to visitors, who are the lifeblood of the town."

"The second reason is that people who work locally are also deterred. The costs are a form of tax on their incomes, and understandably they avoid the costs where they can - by parking on the streets away from the town centre."

"The third reason is safety - I frequently see impatient drivers driving on footpaths and even across gardens to get past."

He says: "Cheap short term parking and attractively priced season ticket parking for people who work in the town is the answer. It would go a long way to resolving a problem which causes increasing ill feeling and unpleasantness, and reflects badly on our town. It would be good for our economy and for traffic congestion and traffic hazards."

"I note that councils desperately need revenue - but I also note that there is still plenty of demand in the town centre car parks."

"In my area, people routinely park outside the sheltered homes in Priory Gardens. In recent months, this problem has worsened and now extends into the minor closes as well. It is now fairly common to see cars driving on the pavements outside the sheltered accommodation as the traffic bottlenecks. This is not good for the vulnerable people who live there; it is also a subject of considerable anger throughout the estate."

Cllr Janet Keen, a district and town councillor, told Monday's meeting: "I fully appreciate the concerns that the gentleman has and I can certainly raise the matter and ask for changes, however I do hold out much hope for that."

"The inconsiderate and thoughtless parking highlighted needs to be discussed with the county council and, as the county councillor for Highbridge is now the portfolio holder for transport, we should ask him if the highways engineers can suggest some restrictions that can be enforced so that residents are not inconvenienced."

Cllr Nick Tolley suggested that an all-day "business discount ticket" be considered for those working in the town centre to help address the issue.

"The immediate problem is that there will be an accident in Priory Gardens, road rage and more heated debates. There are all sorts of problems down there, especially around 5 to 5.30pm in the evening - it needs to be seriously addressed."

Cllr Michael Clarke added that "as a former resident of Priory Gardens I sympathize with the residents" and he said a solution does need to be found, however he cautioned that even with reduced parking fees some drivers would still seek out free parking in the side roads.

Cllr Kate Lawson said: "I think the suggestion of a season ticket could be an idea for Sedgemoor - what concerns me is the immediate danger of people driving on pavements and what happens if an ambulance or fire brigade is needed?"

Cllr Phil Harvey suggested "an approach be made to the cabinet member for highways to address the parking in the residential areas". He said yellow lines could be considered to prevent parking during the day. "There isn't a possibility of starting a residents parking scheme as we know the County's criteria is that 70 or 90% of properties do not have off-street parking - but most properties there do have off-street parking."

He added that the councils have a difficult balancing decision to make in weighing up the costs of parking versus potential income.

It was decided that the Town Clerk Tatiana Cant would take up the matter with Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council to examine potential solutions in more detail.


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