Pub wants to call time on parking fees idea
THE owner of a popular Portishead pub says he will take legal action if plans to introduce charges to use the car park outside his inn move forward.
North Somerset Council strategic planning and economic development (SPED) scrutiny panel is currently looking at introducing charging at car parks across the north of the district.
One of the car parks currently being considered is outside the Windmill pub at Nore Road.
The car park, which is owned by North Somerset Council, is not only used by pub customers, but by dog walkers who exercise their pets at Kilkenny Fields and along the coast path.
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Owner of the pub, Jeff Churchill, says when he bought the pub 14 years ago from Bristol City Council, it came with an agreement that he has free access to the car park.
He says that introducing charges would have a detrimental effect on his business.
Mr Churchill, 64, said: "I do not think it would be legal for the council to introduce charges on this car park.
"When I bought the pub it came with an agreement that we got free access to the car park.
"I have never heard of a pub which has a car park which customers have to pay to use.
"The charges will just be an additional cost to our customers and, as many of them are elderly, this is not something they could afford.
"There is nowhere else to park to use the pub and this would just force people into their cars a few miles up the road to park at Cribbs Causeway which is free.
"Not only that, but who is going to pay to park so they can walk their dogs?"
Mr Churchill has also spent £50,000 on creating an overflow car park for the pub.
He added: "Introducing charges will undermine businesses right across North Somerset.
"The agreement was to share costs with the council for the maintenance of the car park, but this has not happened.
"I have spent £50,000 of my own money on improving the car park and all the council has done in the last 14 years is mark out four disabled bays.
"If charges are now introduced, it could shrink by business to an unrecognisable level.
"We have provided a valuable amenity here and this is a poor way of the council thanking people for what they have done."
The council is also considering introducing parking charges in other areas of Portishead including The Esplanade, Harbour Road, Slade Road and the High Street.
Trustees at the open air pool have already launched a petition against the moves, saying the additional charges would deter people from visiting the lido.
Traders in Clevedon and Nailsea have also raised objections and started petitions objecting to the introduction of fees in their towns.
The move to consider charges in the north of the district follows the introduction of a scheme to introduce on street parking fees in Weston-super-Mare.
A report on parking charges is due before the council's executive member for highways and transport, Elfan Ap Rees, later this year.
North Somerset Council spokesman Nick Yates said: "The working group is examining the idea of parking charges in areas of North Somerset.
"They will consider any conditions which may be attached to car parks.
"No final decisions have been made and a report will go to the executive later this year."
Anyone who wants to have their say on the parking reforms can write to SPED chairman, Councillor Clive Webb at the Town Hall, Weston- super-Mare, BS23 1UJ.