Cheers as council scraps plan for parking charges at popular park
DOG walkers, parents and children gathered to celebrate Bristol City Council's decision to scrap plans for parking charges at Oldbury Court Estate.
Regular visitors to the park say they are pleased the authority has reversed its unpopular decision – but many fear parking meters may be installed in the future.
City mayor George Ferguson had proposed charges at Oldbury Court and Blaise Castle Estate in an attempt to help plug a £35 million shortfall in the city council's budget.
A petition organised by Fishponds resident Nadia Paul in opposition to the plans attracted more than 1,000 names, with the number still growing, despite the council's U-turn.
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Residents complained that parking meters would have prompted visitors to Oldbury Court to park in nearby residential streets. They also argued neighbours had not been properly consulted about the plans.
Ms Paul, 62, who visits the park twice a day, said: "We feel we've won the battle but not the war.
"We've got this far but the council has got a sneaky way of buttering you up with one thing so they can get away with something else.
"If you listen to people's comments they feel so strongly about it."
Ms Paul said she was worried that ducts for electric cabling were being installed at Oldbury Court as part of a £200,000 scheme to improve the entrance for parents visiting the park with children, repair potholes and resurface the car park.
She said: "We will keep a close eye on any proposals about changes here and I plan to extend the paper petition through the summer.
"I will keep the website petition as well. I'm hoping to get 2,000 to 3,000 names overall.
"Hardly anyone I spoke to leading up to this knew the proposed charges were going to be made – it was kept very quiet."
Jenny Bromwich, 53, who lives in Fishponds, walks her dog at Oldbury Court twice a day.
She said: "It's great news that the charges have been dropped. It's not just dog walkers who use the park – it's mums with their kids. If you put parking charges in, it's not such a cheap day out for them.
"The cubs and brownies come down here and do their nature trails and school football teams as well.
"There's an awful lot of people who would be affected by the charges."
City council spokeswoman Helen Hewitt said cable ducts were being laid to "future proof" the park.
She said: "These ducts are designed to carry electric cables so in the event that at some point in the future we want to have electricity power points in the car park, we won't have to dig up the newly laid surface and dig a new trench."