Bristol City Council's proposals to introduce Residents Parking Schemes in Kingsdown and Cliftonwood have suffered a setback with a largely negative public response, based on an admittedly poor response rate, to the latest round of consultations. In Cliftonwood 57% of those responding were opposed and in Kingsdown 47% were opposed compared to 45% in favour. Only the area of Kingsdown south of Cotham Road showed a tiny majority (46.1% to 45.5%) in favour of the RPS.
Typical footway blocking in the area south of Queen's Road, Clifton - P120NRL.
It's hard to see how the Council can continue with the schemes in the face of such a response. Even the majority in the smaller Kingsdown Zone is wafer thin and hardly a solid base for proceeding. The council will decide how to proceed at its Cabinet meeting on March 25th, but is expected to delegate the decision on the Kingsdown scheme to David Bishop, the Strategic Director of City Development, which sounds to me like an attempt by the politicians to distance themselves from what will inevitably be a controversial decision whichever way it goes.
It seems clear that the Cliftonwood and north-of-Cotham Road areas will not now proceed which will leave the very obvious problems (pictured) largely unresolved. So is there perhaps a way forward that somehow reconciles the opposing factions? Back in January of last year I floated an idea which could do that, so it is perhaps time to resurrect it. The essence of my approach is to let people decide whether to be part of a Residents' Parking Scheme (RPS) on an individual basis. What could be more democratic than that?
To give a practical example supposing in a particular street there were 50% of households who wanted to opt in to an RPS, why not allocate 50% of the available parking spaces to the scheme and allow the remainder to remain uncontrolled? Nobody need be forced in to an RPS they don't agree with. Those households who choose to remain out of the RPS will continue to compete for the remaining uncontrolled spaces as at present. The costs of setting up and managing the schemes would be borne solely by those opting in.
Such an approach could develop incrementally with people opting in or out whenever they like, subject to changes to the street markings. It need not be limited to narrowly defined areas either. In theory anyone, anywhere in Bristol could apply for an RPS in their street, even if they were the only one interested. One space could be allocated to the one member of the scheme who would pay the costs. Simple enough? Well not quite so simple in practice of course but no more complicated than the present scheme.