School staff forced out of car park
Published on: 31 Oct 2014
A ROW has broken out over changes made to the number of hours people can park at a car park in Staple Hill.
The long-stay parking area behind the Portcullis Pub in Page Road had been used by support staff at Staple Hill Primary School who had been allowed to park there for up to 12 hours.
But in September, following a parking review of the district, South Gloucestershire Council changed it to a short-stay car park.
Now 57 members of staff have petitioned the authority asking them to change it back so they can continue to park there.
But traders say it is vital it stays as a short-stay car park to encourage shoppers into the area.
The old Staple Hill School closed in July 2011 and reopened in a new £7million building on the opposite side of the road for the start of the new school year.
But as the new school car park was only big enough to accommodate teaching staff, admin workers and teaching assistants used the public car park opposite until restrictions changed two months ago.
They now say they are being forced to park on roads around the school which has angered many residents.
Sarah O’loughlin, a special needs teaching assistant, said support staff arrived back to school this September to find they could only park there for a maximum of two hours.
“I’ve now been parking on residential streets around the school which is starting to annoy residents as I’ve noticed people leaving bins and cones outside their houses.
“I leave my house in Longwell Green 10 minutes earlier purely because I’m panicking about finding a parking space.
“The more cars there are parked on local roads the more dangerous it is for children coming to and from school on their bikes and scooters.”
Sarah added: “I walked around Staple Hill and counted around 300 spaces in a 12,000 sq ft area that are short-stay spaces, not including private spaces and disabled spaces. For a small shopping community, I think shoppers have plenty of short-stay spaces available to them. I could understand it if the Page Road car park gets full, but it doesn’t. “
The council says the car park in Haynes Lane has been changed to a long-stay car park to compensate for changes at Page Road but Sarah says it’s not an ideal solution.
Terry Sheen, president of Staple Hill Chamber of Trade said keeping the car park short-stay is crucial to high street trade.
“When the new school was built Staple Hill traders lost a large amount of shoppers car park spaces in Page Road for an agreed period while the building works were carried out and the new car park was built.
“However, this took much longer than expected. During this period high street footfall declined rapidly, resulting in many shops closing. Some have managed to survive, but without short-stay parking this has been getting worse.
“The long-stay car park was being used by people as a park and ride facility for Bristol and Bath. Some offices and businesses were using this as a staff car park, blocking this for shoppers from early morning until late afternoon.
“This car park was designed to be short-stay to keep Staple Hill alive as a good shopping area for the local community. We have already lost far too many shops.
“Many people do not yet know that this car park is open, but the council has prepared new signs for erection in the near future. This is being used more and more on a daily basis and footfall to the high street shops is showing the first signs of recovery.”
Mum-of one Anitra Wassell, who has a child who attends Staple Hill Stars Pre-school opposite, also wants the car park to remain short-stay.
“It’s a popular area with parents dropping off and picking up their children and now it’s a short-stay car park it’s so much easier.
“When it was a long-stay car park, you would never have anywhere to park as it was full up by people parking there all day. It made the road really busy and didn’t seem very safe for children. It would be dangerous for it to revert back to a long-stay car park.”
A council report said the review of waiting restrictions and parking in the area had been carried out to encourage shoppers into the area and to improve traffic flow and safety at junctions.
“These measures are intended to allow most short-stay parking opportunities during the day and encourage a turnover of vehicles in the main retail area of Staple Hill,” the report said.
A spokesperson from South Gloucestershire Council said the petition has been passed to the relevant director for their attention.