Response to Car Park Charging Proposals
The Westbury on Trym Society was formed and founded 50 years ago (its half century being celebrated in March of last year 2022). Its objectives are to care for the continuation of life in the old village of Westbury on Trym, its many landmark buildings (some remaining from 500 years and earlier), the historic geography of its foundations and street patterns, its conservation area and all of its amenities. These include the well-known Canford Park with a hundred year old symbolic, sunken ‘Paradise’ garden within its boundary, a shopping centre with some shops dating back more than 150 years and a car park formed after the second world war by demolition of one of its late 18th century houses – namely - Bedford House, which was next door to the new Methodist Church of 1882 (replacing a Wesleyan Chapel built there in the 1860’s).
This Car Park is clearly acknowledged as very important to its locality by virtue of its position top of the list of the ten Car Parks to be charged from now onwards, in all statistics relating to usage – and now to be charged hourly fees, seven days a week.
Its importance to people living locally - not just in Westbury on Trym, but across many other wards in North Bristol, for all manner of purposes besides shopping, cannot be stressed enough. The suggestion that by charging, long stay commuters will be deterred from occupation, is quite un-necessary in this case. The change-over of vehicles is rapid and frequent all during the day and early evening - there often being queues of cars waiting for spaces that back out onto the narrow stretch of Westbury Hill where lie the entrance and the exit. ‘Long-stayers’ will only take up spaces if permitted by the issue of day long passes that save money!
The Car Park represents the main artery to Westbury’s ‘heart and lungs’ being :- the footfall of its commercial and business centre; the daily stream of patients to the Primary Care Health Centre just behind it; as a regularly used park for the many services and weddings at the two adjacent Parish churches and the Village Hall up the Hill, for customers at the weekly ‘Country Market’ of local produce, as well as much of the area’s social interaction in meetings and classes all day long in both churches, the old College and the Village Hall, plus use of the Library and Canford Park.
The worst possible outcome for us would be the issue of long-stay, annual passes. These will be snapped up by commuters into Bristol who can take a bus from the village centre into town. At present they arrive as early as 6.0 am to take up any spaces between the on-street residents’ parked cars. Due to the historic development of Westbury over many centuries, streets at its heart are narrow and bendy, bordered by small houses originally designed for agricultural and domestic workers on the many big estates that once made up this country area, or later tightly packed semi’s from the 1930s.There are either no front gardens at all, or those that exist are very small, not allowing any adaptations for vehicles.
Additionally, many business people commute into Westbury from other parts of Bristol for work in offices, retail, hairdressing and catering. We have reached a state of ‘peak parking’ in Westbury on our streets and so continual, daily, movement in and out of the Car Park is absolutely essential for the lasting viability and vitality of the whole village commercially and socially.
We also dread the arrival of the thousands of houses just beyond Westbury in South Gloucestershire because with the apparent lack of any provision for park and ride facilities there, commuters into Bristol for employment, will inevitably look for all day parking in and around our wards prior to catching a bus. Fair and reasonable hourly charges will help to keep the flow of vehicles into Westbury for short visits to the four banks (of which there are many. as shown in a survey done by the Society some years ago), solicitors, advisory health services, hairdressers and barbers and of course to the supermarkets and green grocers.
However, high charging for the first 2 hours would penalize many families using the car park whose youngsters come for classes in ballet, football, mother and toddlers’ socialising and extra education and study for ethnic minority children in classes after school. Also, the demographic of this ward shows a very high proportion of elderly citizens who really do need to come by car to the Health Centre and for shopping and social contact meetings and CANNOT use SCOOTERS and BICYCLES! (It is to be noted here that both the nearby Greenway and Bradgate Health Centres have FREE parking alongside!)
It is also noted that simultaneously with these proposals the Bristol Planning Review is recommending new measures to keep local shopping centres vital and busy and to effect the founding of a ‘15 minute’ journey City-saving energy and pollution! Plenty of short term parking near to all ward centres will be essential for this objective.
For all the above reasons therefore, we would welcome further negotiations with our social, religious, business and health foundations - together with our own Councillors, BEFORE any further decisions are taken as to the scales and timings of charges and above all to prevent long term commuter (£280.00) passes being issued which will kill off everything in the village.
Hilary Long-pp the Westbury Society Committee and planning group (Chairman)