PR: Huge Christmas parking demand to be met by ‘overspill’ Park & Ride that could save Bathampton Meadows

 Campaigners against the proposed Park & Ride on Bathampton Meadows have welcomed the council’s solution for this year’s peak in Christmas traffic by providing an overspill facility for the first time on Lansdown.
&nbsp In a written response to campaigner Christine Boyd, the cabinet member for transport, Councillor Tony Clarke revealed that the council has struck an agreement to use the car park at Lansdown North Playing Fields, almost opposite Lansdown Park & Ride, to provide parking on Saturdays for an extra 140 cars during the busy Christmas Market period.
 Campaigners had recommended to the council earlier this year that, because Park & Ride usage in Bath is so seasonal, it should look at providing overspill parking during the busiest weeks instead of pushing ahead with controversial and hugely costly plans to build a new 1,400-space Park & Ride on the east of the city. Councillor Clarke confirmed that usage of Bath’s existing Park & Rides rises dramatically during the three and a half weeks of the Christmas Market, particularly on Saturdays. This matches the trend that data analyst Andrew Lea, of the Bathampton Meadows Alliance, had already identified using the council’s own parking data. The council puts the rise in usage during the peak weeks at 42%, but Mr Lea says the rise is even higher, at 47%, and is so high for those few weeks that it skews the figures for the whole year.
 Alliance campaigner Christine Boyd said that the council’s move this year to provide temporary overspill parking during the busiest period was a welcome first step that could, if extended to other predictably busy days like the Bath Half marathon and Bath University Open Day, go a long way towards solving its parking problems.
 “This is an eminently sensible solution,” Ms Boyd said.  “We know from the council’s own consultants Mott Macdonald that the total shortfall in P&R spaces in the city will only be 112 spaces by the year 2029 if the eastern Park & Ride doesn’t go ahead.” “This new council initiative, to provide an extra 140 seasonal spaces at Lansdown, removes that problem at a stroke, and shows that you don’t need to build on Green Belt land to provide more Park & Ride spaces when they’re only required for a few peak weeks a year.”
 “This will save the council and us taxpayers £10 million, and it will save Bathampton Meadows.” Cllr Clarke conceded in a written response to questions raised by Christine Boyd that usage across Bath’s existing Park & Rides is only around 60% across the whole year. However Cllr Clarke said usage spiked dramatically during the Christmas market, rising to 85% during the 3 weeks in November and December, and on peak days could exceed capacity.
 Andrew Lea of the Bathampton Meadows Alliance said the alliance’s research bears out the council’s figures, but warned that the average usage over the year was skewed because of this atypical spike at Christmas, which increased the yearly maximum average by 5%. Mr Lea said out of the 19 days over the whole year when Bath’s existing Park & Rides were full at some point during the day, 17 of those days were during the Christmas Market. He said this fact made it very easy for the council to plan well ahead to minimize congestion in the city.
 The Alliance revealed last month that some parking bays at Odd Down Park & Ride, which was expanded in 2012 at a cost of more than £1 million, are so overgrown with weeds that they appear completely un-useable. The council responded saying that these were overspill spaces and that they would be cleared ahead of the busy Christmas period. However, the Alliance has disputed this.
 Christine Boyd, who exposed the shocking underuse of the Park & Ride in a video, ‘Becoming a Ghost Town’, said that there was no mention of the new spaces being for overspill when the council put in the planning application for the expansion at Odd Down in 2009. Ms Boyd said: “Odd Down is for life not just for Christmas. There is no overspill parking at Odd Down, and all the bays are supposed to be available all year round, if people can manage to dodge the weeds. The expansion at Odd Down has been a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money, and it’s a mistake that must not be repeated.”
 Extract from questions to council document for 10.11.2016
 P 05   Question from:   Christine Boyd The Bathampton Meadows Alliance has calculated that use of park and ride increases by around 30% during the Christmas Market period. Does the council agree with this figure or if not, what impact does the council believe the Christmas Market period has on park and ride use?
 Answer from:   Councillor Anthony Clarke The average usage across all three park and ride sites during the Christmas Market period is approximately 85% capacity. However, on peak days and at peak times during the Christmas Market period usage of all of the sites is higher than this figure and can exceed capacity. Usage across the year averages at approximately 60% capacity, though again there are peaks at other points during the year when the Park & Rides are at or near capacity, and this figure is since the recent expansions and is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead.
 P 06   Question from:    Christine Boyd Last February, the Bathampton Meadows Alliance suggested that the council find ways to manage seasonal demand rather than plan for more P&R spaces that remain unused the rest of the year. What seasonal plans are now in place to manage traffic entering the city during the Christmas Market period, specifically:
 · How many extra trains or buses will be provided to meet this demand?
 · Has the council secured overflow park and ride spaces for this period?
 Answer from:   Councillor Anthony Clarke The Christmas market preparations for the Bath P&R include use of eight extra buses on Saturdays and six extra buses on Sundays, as well as the deployment of ticket sellers at the busiest sites.  Train operators may increase capacity during the Christmas period. In addition to the overflow spaces at Odd Down P&R, this year we have reserved the car park at Lansdown North Playing Fields (nearly opposite Lansdown Park & Ride) as an overflow car park on the Saturdays of the Christmas market.  This should provide an additional 140 spaces for visitors.