Letter: Find funds to deliver free parking for Keynsham

If the Liberal Democrat claim that it is not possible to create free parking in Keynsham due to the “cost” ever had any credibility, it certainly does not now.

In one of the fastest U-turns in B&NES history, the Lib Dems announced that they are ditching plans to introduce parking charges at all the council’s free car parks.

This sudden about-turn leaves a black hole of up to £300,000 in the council’s budget plans – far more than the cost of creating free parking in Keynsham.

Back in the summer, Conservative councillors successfully moved a council motion which called on the Lib Dem Cabinet to introduce free short-stay parking at Ashton Way in Keynsham.  We believe this could be paid for through the creation of more charged long-stay spaces.

However, this was roundly rebuffed by the Lib Dems, whose Cabinet Member said there would be a cost attached and the council could not afford it, though gave no figures to back up his claim.

The fact that the council can suddenly find £300,000 from nowhere, during apparently tight financial times, surely puts to bed once and for all the Lib Dem claims of lack of funds.

Since the Lib Dems rejected pleas by Keynsham businesses and councillors for free parking, the demolition work on the town centre has begun in earnest.  The message from traders is that they are very concerned that the loss of parking spaces and disruption caused by the work is already harming their businesses.

B&NES needs to urgently review its previous refusal to implement free parking in Keynsham.  The council should be doing all it can to help local traders during the inevitably difficult construction period of the town centre, and free parking would be a quick and easy way to do this.

The council has found £300,000 to keep parking free elsewhere in the authority.  It should now find the funds to deliver it for Keynsham.

Cllr Kate Simmons

Cons, Keynsham South

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