Residents Parking Zone Could Be With Us by Summer

Cllr Smedley submits the Westover scheme to Bev Norman at SCC
Cllr Smedley submits the Westover scheme to Bev Norman at SCC

On Tuesday 25th February there will be a meeting of the Westover Resident Parking Campaigns ‘Scheme Champions’ at Sedgemoor District Council offices (2pm). The meeting will involve officers from Sedgemoor and Somerset councils who will steer the plans for this lengthy campaign to a reality.

But how did we get to where we are now?? Westover Councillor Brian Smedley tells the story of the campaign.

Civil Parking Enforcement

In June 2012 the way the authorities dealt with on street parking was drastically changed as Civil Parking Enforcement was introduced replacing the previous virtual amnesty. Residents , who suddenly found their usual routine had changed forever as regulations were enforced rigidly and fines were handed out enthusiastically, started contacting their councillors in great numbers demanding a residents parking scheme to solve this. Here in Westover we were the most badly affected as our ward includes the town centre which requires a rapid turnover of parking for shoppers but also includes edge of town residential streets where shop workers and now increasingly shoppers, fill up the parking spaces.

As a result Westover Councillors toured the ward with County Parking supremo Jon Pallet and following his recommendations launched a campaign to identify roads and zones that could be considered for a pilot RESIDENT PARKING SCHEME but ensuring from the offset that only streets that wanted this solution got it.

Cllr Pearce and Jon Pallet having a look at the situation on the ground.
Cllr Pearce and Jon Pallet having a look at the situation on the ground.

Westover Residents Parking Report

On Wednesday 3rd October 2012 Westover Councillors compiled and submitted a comprehensive report on the subject to Somerset Council based on extensive public consultation within the ward and supported by street petitions, relevant parking statistics and indicative diagrams.

The report, which included majority petitions from 15 streets around the ward, was presented to Bev Norman the Traffic Team manager who agreed to put it before Cllr Harvey Siggs the portfolio holder as part of the Departments Policy Review.

At that time SCC was heading towards an election and things appeared to be put on hold until afterwards . As a result there was a lengthy period of inaction ostensibly while SCC carried out a ‘policy review’. However, only two schemes had been submitted and Westover was the first (narrowly beating Sigg’s own scheme in Wells!)

Pressure on Harvey Siggs at County hall to get a move on.
Pressure on Harvey Siggs at County hall to get a move on.

Somerset County Policy Review

The election in June 2013 left Sigg’s in his place at County Hall and by October 2013 Somerset had produced a new policy document on residents parking which can be sumarised thus;-

New Residents Parking Schemes

Somerset County Council has produced guidance for communities on how to request new Residents Parking schemes in their area.

  • Residential Parking Zones do not guarantee parking spaces for households in busy residential areas.
  • There is a cost to residents who wish to purchase parking permits.
  • The processes involved in establishing a residential parking zone can take many months.

Policy PM9: Resident-Friendly Parking Measures Policy

Within residential areas that have limited off-street parking for residents and clear conflicts between residents and commuter parking, measures to manage on-street parking will be considered at the request of residents.

The review now provided more flexibility and established the following process

2 years of this....and finally some action
2 years of this….and finally some action

The Process

  • Step 1: Identify a scheme champion as a single point of contact with SCC
  • Step 2: Define problem and geographic area / complete the SCC template
  • Step 3: Consult all residents in likely affected area (signed by 60% of households who respond to the consultation)
  • Step 4: Scheme champion liases with SCC to set up survey
  • Step 5: Collect data & return results to SCC
  • Step 6: SCC consults with champion on recommended scheme (Cabinet member decision)
  • Step 7: Wider area investigation – SCC identifies wider detrimental knock on effects NB: if these are serious then more data and evidence needs collecting
  • Step 8: If no detrimental effects – SCC develops a business case. If cost effective SCC proposes a solution if not the proposal is rejected
  • Step 9: Consult ALL households – scheme champion must do this and demonstrate that 80% of households support the scheme as set out in the business case NB- if not enough support-the proposal is rejected
  • Step 10: If sufficient support is demonstrated SCC will design, statutory consultation and implementation

So with this new policy review and Westover in lead position to be seen as a pilot scheme we were able to tackle the issue street by street with identified scheme champions in place to take their areas forward.

Scheme Champions

The streets considered for the RPZ
The streets considered for the RPZ

At a meeting in January 2014 we established a panel of Westover scheme champions who were tasked with defining the residents parking zone, ensuring the streets in question still wanted to participate –this involved a supporting petition of 60% and then setting the agenda for the next step..

Crucially, the SCC policy ultimately requires that the scheme will only be applicable to streets where 80% of households WANT the scheme that is eventually agreed

At this stage the streets included and scheme champions are as follows.

  1. Castle st/West Quay/Kings Sq/Bond st/Queen st (SC-Tony Heywood ).This area includes some 23 identified households, 53 potential spaces and we have 18 supporting signatories – this therefore meets the 60% requirement with 78%
  2. Dampiet st/Blake st (SC-Mark Postma-) This includes 13 households, 10 spaces and 11 signatories -85%
  3. Blacklands (George Weston ) Stats show a majority with 42 households, 40 potential spaces and 28 signatories – therefore a 66% majority. We are currently discussing whether to combine with Camden rd but so far we have neither a scheme champion nor a petition from Camden.
  4. Silver st & Friarn st  (SC Liz Edwards ) Support is currently at at 50% but a new petition is due in. The stats are 85 households 28 spaces and 42 signatories.
  5. St Saviours Avenue (SC- Andy Slocombe ) Currently discussing if to be combined with St Mary Street – if so the stats are 138 households -69 spaces 73 signatories but a current 53% support.
  6. Chandos st – Scheme Champion is nominally Karen Llewellyn but stats are unclear due to the dominance of the residential unit which has it’s own minimal parking

The campaign has been long but we are now in the last straight and we could have residents parking schemes in place by the summer. Anyone wanting further information should contact their local scheme champions or myself via westover ward.