Council chiefs to rethink Westbury-on-Trym car park charges

The car park next to the surgery at Westbury Hill The car park next to the surgery at Westbury Hill
The car park next to the surgery at Westbury Hill | Google
There have been complaints about the impact on GP patients, churchgoers and short-stay shoppers

Council chiefs have agreed to consider a plea from a GP surgery not to charge patients to park for appointments.

Residents and councillors have been campaigning for the city council to abandon pay and display plans at Westbury Hill car park in Westbury-on-Trym – and now the local authority has agreed to consult with the community “to look at alternative cost-neutral parking charges”, after complaints about the impact on GP patients, churchgoers and short-stay shoppers. 

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It comes as Westbury-on-Trym Primary Care Centre, which is at the rear of the car park where patients park during appointments, has joined locals in urging Bristol City Council to keep the first hour free while increasing fees for longer stays so it still raises about the same amount of money from drivers.

And opposition Conservative councillors have tabled a motion to full council demanding a compromise and proper consultation with communities who use the 10 suburban car parks where charges are being introduced.

Tory group leader Cllr Mark Weston’s proposal asks Labour mayor Marvin Rees to “revisit, review and reverse” the plans, which were endorsed by cabinet in January and included in last month’s annual budget.

He said the “misconceived idea” would harm shopping centres, volunteer and faith groups and would impact residents who relied on nearby public services, such as medical clinics and community centres.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cllr Weston said: “It is understandable that the administration is looking to find extra income streams to close a projected budget gap in the years ahead.

“But, the way this review of car parks was conducted, covertly, by parking services, is totally unacceptable. There has been no input from the communities most impacted or their elected representatives.

“Consequently, important stakeholders were denied an opportunity to shape any changes in the use of this parking provision. I note that the mayor has previously expressed a willingness for conversations to take place on this matter.

“My colleagues want this to be a meaningful exchange, with the possibility of flexibility, revision or even reversal of policy at this early, preparatory stage. Our motion gives an opportunity for debate and further representations from the public against what are – in their present form – highly damaging and likely counterproductive measures.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In a statement to full council in February, Westbury-on-Trym Primary Care Centre, which has 12,000 patients on its books, said: “We are concerned that charging for parking will deter patients from attending appointments and potentially increase the number of home visits GPs will need to accommodate in an already over-stretched service.

“We would suggest free parking for the first hour to accommodate patient care. For any longer period, we would support the council in charging for parking and would be in favour of an increased rate – £2 per hour after the first free hour.”

It said making only the first 30 minutes free would be “problematic” because many appointments took longer, such as chronic disease reviews and complex wound dressings.

The surgery said: “Increasingly, we manage urgent cases on the day which can cause clinicians to run late, resulting in patient waiting times being extended – this is regrettable but unavoidable.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A council spokesperson said: “To achieve our ambition for net zero by 2030 we need to change the way we travel as a city, and encourage a shift to active and sustainable modes of transport.

“Introducing charges to our district car parks supports these aims and will see the money raised going towards helping us to run and maintain our car parks so they are available for communities to use.

“We will consult with local councillors and traders to look at alternative cost neutral parking charges and will also engage with NHS partners to see how we can support each other to meet our net zero ambitions.”

The Tories’ silver motion – which means it is likely but not guaranteed to be debated at full council on Tuesday, March 14 – urges the administration to “commit to conducting full consultation prior to any introduction, and work with local councillors and communities to explore possible compromise solutions”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It also asks for the sell-off of four other other car parks to be paused so the impact on high streets can be evaluated.

A parish and a Methodist church are also next to Westbury Hill car park and the current plans are to charge for parking seven days a week, which would mean Sunday service attendees.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.