Your turn to solve gridlock . . . Bristol business leaders offer £5,000 prize for best idea
BRISTOL business leaders are looking for people to come up with ideas to solve the city's congestion problems.
They have launched a competition, which is open to anyone, to put forward schemes that will rid Bristol of its daily gridlock.
They have put up a £5,000 prize for the best idea, taking inspiration from the competition which brought about Isambard Kingdom Brunel's design for the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Peter Hargreaves, the outspoken boss of stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, will judge the entries along with Guy Kingston, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.
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A £1,000 prize is also on offer from the Association of British Drivers with the aim of improving parking in Bristol.
Mr Kingston said: "We all know that someone should be doing something about the transport problems that are strangling business in Bristol.
"We have decided to put the organisation's money where its mouth is and will give £5,000 for the best idea we receive.
"Small businesses need good transport links to survive. The city council keeps coming up with initiatives but they never seem to improve the situation.
"We are sure the people of Bristol can do a better job and come up with a whole batch of good suggestions.
"Whether it is an idea that will improve transport on one road junction in the city or a scheme that encompasses the whole area, we want to hear it. Ideas don't necessarily have to involve new infrastructure, or changes to existing infrastructure. The winner may well be something that changes people's travelling behaviour, making it easier and more pleasant for us all to move around the city and find a parking space when we get there."
The plan is to present the best ideas to the city's new elected mayor and the council. The FSB will then campaign to have them implemented.
In the last few months schemes such as turning traffic lights amber in the evenings, putting in place a system where electric driverless pods link Temple Meads with Cabot Circus and making parking free on Sundays have been suggested by organisations or mayoral candidates.
Mr Kingston said: "We keep getting told that our economic recovery depends on the small business sector. But the grand projects we hear about often overlook small business needs.
"A plumber can't do his rounds on a bendy bus, organic veg boxes can't be delivered by bike. Independent shops close when nearby free parking spaces are lost. Consultants need to be able to drive to meetings and park when they get there.
"Time wasted in traffic jams and trying to find parking spaces is a real drain on our economy. Public transport solutions may be useful for certain sections of the commuting public but for many small businesses they are never going to be fast enough or convenient enough.
The Association of British Drivers has put up a separate prize of £1,000 for the best parking idea for the city.
Spokesman Brian MacDowall said: "Private cars provide the most flexible, and most cost-effective transport mode, and are used for more than 85 per cent of journeys.
"But, all too often government or local councils see motorists as a cash cow to be milked at will, especially with increased parking charges and extensions of chargeable parking periods.
"Added to that road safety policy, environmental strategy, and local planning decisions have become dominated by 'anti-car' factions. We see ever greater restrictions and limitation on parking, many of which seem to have no rational justification other than an inherent dislike of cars by the people imposing them."
Mr MacDowall said ideas to improve parking could take a variety of forms.
"Maybe there were double yellow lines outside a school that has closed or moved," he said. "Perhaps there's some wasteland that would make an ideal car park for people who work in light industrial units. We must use our imagination and find solutions that help, not hinder, people.
"It's a simple quality of life matter.
"Many journeys have to be made by car or not at all. If you can't park easily and cheaply when you get there, life is that bit more miserable.
"We want to change that and are keen to find some exciting and innovative ways we can expand Bristol's parking capacity that benefits everybody and doesn't create new eyesores in the city."
The competition opens next Tuesday and closes on November 27.
Details of how to enter will be announced next week.