Bristol parking fees dropped in new council budget
PLANS to introduce car parking charges at two popular Bristol parks have been dropped by the city's mayor.
George Ferguson had proposed bringing in charges at Oldbury Court Estate and Blaise Castle Estate in an attempt to help plug a £35 million shortfall in the city council's budget.
But he has now scrapped the plans – a decision which will be warmly welcomed by dog walkers and regular visitors to the parks.
A petition had been launched in opposition to the proposals for Oldbury Court. Residents complained parking meters would have pushed more cars onto residential streets surrounding the park.
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Nadia Paul, 62, who lives in Fishponds, attracted 800 names on her petition against the plans.
But she fears the proposals may be resurrected in the future.
Ms Paul said: "I'm pleased because a lot of people put in a lot of effort going up against this but until it's guaranteed that there won't be parking charges, you can't sit on your laurels.
"I have this feeling that it's only going to be a temporary thing."
Reversing the decision on parking charges, which would have generated £110,000 a year, was one of several changes to Mr Ferguson's budget proposals announced yesterday.
He has performed a U-turn on his plan to axe 32 police community support officers (PCSOs) in the city, which would have saved the council £540,000 a year.
But the council will receive an increased contribution of £300,000 from Avon and Somerset police to fund the PCSOs, with a further £210,000 coming from the council's housing revenue account.
The authority has reversed its decision to scrap council subsidies for night bus services, which would have saved £60,000. The amended budget for 2013/14 also includes spending £400,000 on helping community organisations take over the running of ten city council youth centres. Some £60,000 has been allocated to continuing work on bringing empty properties back into use, while £20,000 has been earmarked for the development of options for East Bristol Pool and Hartcliffe Household Waste Recycling Centre.
The council hopes to save £40,000 on street lighting through reductions in energy use and maintenance, and £500,000 by carrying forward a "one-off re-allocation" from a £1.4 million New Homes Bonus.
Mr Ferguson said the amendments had been made following an "open, productive and collaborative" consultation.
He said: "This budget now not only matches our spending to today's tough economic realities but also includes my responses to the consultation process. It reflects my top priority of protecting services for the most vulnerable and addressing the city's most pressing needs as far as can be done, at the same time as stimulating Bristol's economy."
The amended budget will be put before a meeting of full council for agreement on February 26.