The Green Group expresses apprehension regarding the proposed implementation of car parking charges in Midsomer Norton and Radstock. Following a recent statement by Councillor Sam Ross to The Journal, the Green Group emphasise the potential ramifications of the measure on both the local economy and the well-being of residents.

In her statement, Councillor Ross questioned the efficacy of the proposal in addressing the Council's deficit, expressing scepticism about the significant impact parking charges at Midsomer Norton and Radstock would have. Instead, concerns are raised that such charges might discourage visitors, leading to a decline in footfall that could, in turn, result in the loss of local businesses and diminished business rates. Highlighting the perplexing return of the issue to the agenda without further discussion, Councillor Ross urges a comprehensive examination of the matter, stating the need for a detailed plan that accommodates the interests of both businesses and visitors, particularly given the defeat of a similar proposal last year.

As the Councillor for Clutton and Farmborough, Councillor Ross has been responsive to the challenges faced by rural residents, points out the lack of services available to them and the need to travel significant distances for basic needs, education, and employment. The proposed charges, in this context, are seen as exacerbating the difficulties faced by these residents, especially considering their limited access to public transport and the existing parking fees in both the city and Keynsham, which are more expensive for those with older or diesel cars.

While acknowledging the Council's responsibility to address financial challenges, the inclusion of parking charges in the current budget appears rushed and reactive. Councillor Ross described it as a "fait accompli," in stressing the need for a more reasoned and robust argument beyond financial desperation before implementing such measures.

In a plea to the Council, the Green Group urges against the inclusion of parking charges in this year's budget, advocating for a strategic, year-long examination of the proposal to avoid adverse effects on local businesses and residents in rural areas.