Green councillor, Eleanor Combley, is calling on colleagues from all parties to give up their free parking spaces at next week's budget meeting, saying the money saved could be used to protect our parks instead.
She has put forward an amendment to the council budget to stop issuing free parking permits to councillors, ex-councillors and senior staff, and charge a modest fee for them instead. The amendment proposes that this income is put towards the parks budget instead of introducing advertising in our parks.
Councillor Combley said:
"Our parks are the lungs of our city. They are well loved by the kids who play in them, those who walk their dogs and the many people across the city without access to a garden. We know that parks and green spaces are essential to our mental health, which is why I am so concerned by the proposals to plaster our parks with advertising. Almost 4000 people have signed a petition against adverts in parks, showing that they share my concerns.”
"Instead I am asking my colleagues to give up their subsidised parking perks to keep our parks ad-free. This is about fairness and about us following our own rules. The council's constitution is very clear that the allowance we are given is also to cover travel costs within the city. Any councillor getting the bus or the train pays for their own ticket, so why are we using taxpayers’ money to subsidise councillors who choose to drive by paying for their parking?”
“At the moment Councillors are able to park for free in the pay and display spaces that everyone else has to pay for. My amendment would mean Councillors would pay the same as everyone else.”
“When I made this suggestion last year, it was clear that Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem councillors all felt very strongly about hanging on to this perk, so I have tried to present an amendment that meets all the concerns they raised, while staying true to the principle that it is not fair to subsidise councillors using cars, but not those using buses, and it is not fair to provide free parking for senior officers required to attend an evening meeting, but not for less well-paid staff.”
- Councillor Combley’s amendment suggests that Councillors could be charged £600 a year for an annual pass (as compared to ~£2000 for annual passes for members of the public in council car parks in the city centre) and £5 for a day pass (as compared to ~£10 per day for a book of 20 day passes).
- Blue Badge holders would be able to park free of charge as normally. The system should include the ability to issue free passes for individuals in the case of short-term injury or illness which would not be covered by a Blue Badge, or particular caring responsibilities which require the use of a car.
- Provisional costings suggest that this would raise £30,000 which would be put into the parks budget to allow the parks department to operate without introducing advertising in parks.
- 3810 have signed a petition calling on parks to be kept add free https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-bristol-s-parks-advertising-free
Full text of Cllr Combley's amendment is available here.