Proposals to change the cost of parking permits to be based off vehicle emissions have been approved in Bath and North East Somerset.
The council has unanimously approved the changes, which will see long stay visitor parking moved to off-street car parks rather than be regulated through permits.
Included in the proposal was the introduction of a new inner and outer zone for hotel parking permits, which will mean that hotels in the inner zone will not get any permits.
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Hotels had already slammed the proposals, saying it will unfairly hit their businesses.
At a council meeting on July 20, the cabinet voted to bring in the changes after hearing from guest speakers earlier on how the proposals will affect them.
Harry Tedstone, chair of Bath Independent Hospitality Association, called for a delay in the decision, saying the current proposals do not deliver a solution that is in the best interests of Bath, both economically and environmentally.
He said: “We need to talk about how we avoid the potential unnecessary 50,000 short journeys in the inner city with people having to drop their bags off at hotels and drive to Charlotte Street, which will add to congestion and emissions.”
Sylvia Sinclair, speaking on behalf of St James Square Bath Limited, which represents 130 residents in St James Square, supported the proposals.
She said residents regularly face “disruption and annoyance” from hotel guest cars taking up “scarce” residential parking spaces.
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Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for transport at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “We heard from our speakers earlier that the hospitality industry has really suffered this year.
“That’s why we as a council are trying to help by extending the Christmas market, promoting the high street.
“We do need to address some of the longstanding anomalies however in hotel permit allocations.
“It makes little sense under the current Clean Air Zone for visitors to dive around and around our local streets looking for somewhere to park and for residents to do the same because they are in competition for scarce on-road parking spaces.
“We are aiming to rebalance this so that locals can park closer to their homes and visitors in the central area will need to park in a council car park.
“This brings us very much in line with many tourist destinations where there’s no exception at all that a visitor can park on the streets in the centre and as a world heritage site it is even more important that we protect our built as well as our natural environment.
“Some, though I have to street, by no means not all hotels, have actually been abusing the current system.
“They have purchased an annual hotel permit for 160 pounds per bedroom and have been selling them on to their guests or others on a daily basis at a significant uplift, sometimes up to 30 pounds a day.”
Ms Rigby added that the council had listened to residents in the consultation and revised its plans, the first changes to permits in eight years, and praised the new payment method which allowed locals to pay monthly for permits.
She added: “We don’t participate that this will put people coming to wonderful Bath.”
Responding to criticism the proposals have bought by some, Ms Rigby said: “My commitment to to those people is that we will work with you to ensure that we can mitigate against those consequences to the best of our ability.”
She added that it is “the status quo which is wrong” and these changes will “rebalance” it.
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Councillor Tom Davies seconded the motion. He said that the change was simply the “next step” in the administration’s delivery of its 2019 manifesto to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.
Councillor Sarah Warren added her support, saying that it is the “most vulnerable in our society, the young, the unborn, the elderly, and those with pre-existing lung conditions who suffer the most from poor air quality in our city.
“It is for this reason that I wholeheartedly support this measure.”
Councillor Richard Samuel added: “I hope that these measures, which I strongly support, will encourage people to think twice before they buy the biggest vehicles.”
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