As part of the six month review, the Council is writing to both (a) people living within the RPZ - this letter was sent last week, and (b) people living nearby, broadly including the area in Cotham south of the railway line - this letter is being sent next week. Both letters invite feedback about how parking and other road issues have developed since the RPZ was installed, with a view to informing the review as to whether there are things that can be done to improve how the RPZ works.
Anthony and I have been collecting feedback from Cotham residents throughout the last five months and the general pattern (with exceptions) is that those living inside the RPZ are very happy with it, with parking easier and the streets being safer and more pleasant. There also appears to be growing enthusiasm for the RPZ for those living outside it, where residents have been able to see the difference that it has made to their neighbours on the other side of Cotham Road/Brow.
However, we are also aware that the RPZ has, as we predicted, had a negative knock-on effect on the surrounding areas. We know that parking there has become more difficult and that there are problems both with illegal parking and 'circling', where drivers meander around looking for spaces. The problems have been particularly bad for people who are at home during the daytime, including young parents and older people. We also know that a proportion of people living inside the RPZ have been parking outside of it either because they can't get a permit or to avoid the cost.
Anecdotally, things seem to have improved somewhat in recent weeks. This could be the onset of summer, commuters finally getting around to finding alternative routes into work or people being deterred by better enforcement from the Police and the Council wardens. The Council will be better able to assess this when the feedback from residents comes in.
Based on the informal feedback that we've had so far and on our own assessment, Anthony and I are going to be pushing for a number of changes:
- An increase in the number of permits that each house can get, to cut the phenomenon of people parking outside the RPZ and/or driving to work where they didn't previously.
- Add a scheme whereby commuting key workers (e.g. nurses) are able to get permits if they are working shifts that overlap with the RPZ hours and into the night.
- Reduce the operational hours, to allow more of the day to be free for incoming visitors - or, at least, to resist any extension in the hours, which some residents are asking for.
- To make more visitor permits available to each household, especially for those people who organise community activities (e.g. mothers groups, book clubs) in their own homes.
- For the Council to have another round of discussions with the major employers around Kingsdown (e.g. the BRI, the BBC and the University) to see what can be done to encourage their employees not to drive and not to park in residential streets.
- To identify a number of unnecessary yellow lines that could be removed in order to create more parking space.