Families and business owners have reacted with anger after parking season ticket goes up by £200 a month
By John Wimperis - Local Democracy Reporter
24th Nov 2022 | Local News
[Correction. The council were contacted for comment for this article but the response was not included in the piece. The email with the response had gone to my spam folder and I was not aware of it until the council press team got in touch after the article was published. Although they emailed me after the time I asked them to, I think it should still be included. The final paragraph of this article is now updated to include their comments. My apologies to all partners.]
Bath locals have reacted with anger after the cost of an any day parking permit skyrocketed from £135 a month to £338 overnight.
Some ticket holders were not told of the increase and only found out when £200 more than usual was taken from their bank accounts. Bath and North East Somerset Council is refunding the difference to people who had this money taken before the changes were announced – but they will still be expected to pay the increased charges in the future.
It will now cost £4,056 a year for the season ticket, which allows someone to park at Charlotte Street car park all days of the week. The previous annual cost was £1,633.
The new price reflects a 35% discount on how much it would cost to park at Charlotte Street all day every day. Councillors have said there has not been a significant increase for some time but families and business owners have reacted with anger to the sudden jump in the cost.
Adam Leon lives in central Bath and relies on his season ticket to park his family car. He said: "The problem is, I don't have any choice as I live in Bath and I have a family. I can't ask my eleven year-old child to ride her bike every day up Lansdown hill."
He added: "I would challenge any council member to raise a family in Bath without a car."
Because Mr Leon's house was converted after 2006, council rules mean he is not entitled to a resident's parking permit. He said: "I have no choice but to use the Charlotte Street car park. When I bought this property, I knew that."
But he added: "I never expected they would put the price up by [150%] in one fell swoop."
He said that he accepted needing to pay £110 a month to park at Charlotte Street when be bought his house in 2016, and that the increase to £135 in 2018 was a "proportionate increase." But he now worries that the overnight increase to £338 is so significant that it could impact the value of his house.
The parking charges are also affecting businesses in Bath. Applications for business parking permits are currently closed, meaning that some local business owners also depend on parking at Charlotte Street.
Part-owner of Quiet Street Antiques Mike Barlow said that his business, which has stood on the central Bath street for 42 years, was struggling with rising energy costs and business rates. He commutes from near Bitton in an electric car and has a season ticket for Charlotte Street. He said: "That's another two and a half thousand we've got to find."
He added that the antique shop had recently spent money on a new delivery van in order to comply with the Clean Air Zone. He said: "That was an investment to get a van. That cost money."
Mr Barlow and his business partner are looking at other ways of getting to Bath to avoid having to pay the increased season ticket cost. But they are also considering reducing their opening hours to five days a week.
He said: "There's just empty shops everywhere, so the net income to the council – at the end of putting all of these people out of business – will be negative."
Mr Leon also has a business in Bath, as a partner involved in running Mary Shelly's House of Frankenstein. He believes the council wants to keep parking spaces available for visitors to Bath.
But he said: "I live in Bath. I raise a family in Bath. I have a business in Bath on Gay Street. I think I am contributing way more to the city than the visitors."
Sue Craig, who Mr Leon contacted as his local councillor, escalated his case and said that it had not been designed to affect people in his situation.
Keynsham councillor Lisa O'Brien objected to the traffic regulation order which brought in the increased charges. It also saw season tickets for Keynsham long stay car park almost double from £19.80 to £39.
She said: "You can't escape the fact that this council is waging war on motorists."
Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, said: "We are aware of this issue.
"The change to off-street parking is only the second price increase across Bath and North East Somerset in the last 12 years. This increase was agreed as part of the council's 2022-23 budget and it was widely consulted on earlier this year."