Bristol Park Street closure: Disabled motorists will still be able to park, Mayor Marvin Rees vows

A bus gate would be introduced at the top of Park Street as part of plans to close it to general traffic

Disabled drivers can keep parking on Park Street if the controversial proposed closure to general traffic goes ahead, Bristol’s mayor has promised.

And Marvin Rees will also consider giving blue-badge holders an exemption to drive down the road to access to the city centre, although he warns enforcement might be an issue as other motorists could flout the new rules.

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Stoke Bishop ward Conservative Cllr John Goulandris told a recent Bristol City Council meeting that many disabled and elderly residents were “dismayed” by the plans to close retail areas like this to cars and worried about the increasing difficulty of accessing the city centre.

He said: “Obviously the aim is to have improved public transport, which is fantastic, but what the elderly and disabled in my ward are telling me is that they can’t access public transport.

“It doesn’t work for them, unfortunately, but they are able to use cars, and with their blue badges they are able to use them quite effectively.

“What assurance can the mayor provide to them that they will not become marginalised by transport proposals, which will see roads such as Park Street closed to cars?”

Mr Rees replied: “The Park Street proposals do not remove access to the street for parking.

“There will be parking provision made for those who are unable to use public transport and are reliant on their car to get around.

“All transport schemes include engagement with a range of equalities groups to ensure they are designed in an inclusive way, and they will have an equalities impact assessment.

“We are fully committed to an inclusive city. This includes disabled people and older residents through our work as an age-friendly city.”

Cllr Goulandris told member forum on Tuesday, January 11: “Their concern is not that they won’t be able to park on Park Street but that they won’t be able to go through Park Street into the city centre.

“There will be exclusions, obviously – motorbikes, cyclists, taxis will be allowed through. Can we allow blue-badge holders?”

The mayor said: “There would be some practical challenges on enforcement, to be perfectly frank.

Mayor Marvin Rees described the funding from the Government as a ‘real win for the city'

“But we would be really keen to explore it and try to minimise the negative consequences for some people of a good thing.

“I agree, good things can have negative consequences for some people.

“What came to mind was a contribution by a disabled person saying they don’t want to be vilified because they need a car.

“There was such an anti-car feeling going around and they were made to feel like they were an enemy of the efforts to manage climate change.

“So we’re happy to talk to you and any particular residents,” he said, adding that they should also raise the issue with the newly formed Bristol Disability Equality Commission, established by the council, and “keep pushing on this and challenging our policy”.

Public consultation into the No 2 bus route proposals, including a bus gate at the top of Park Street and some alternative ideas for traffic flows, closes on Friday, January 28, and can be found here: https://travelwest.info/projects/a37-a4018-transport-corridor