New parking restrictions could be implemented in Wells to deal with tourism strain

Wells quay. Picture: Ian Burt

Wells quay. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

The coastal town of Wells is a huge attraction for tourists and as the number of visitors continues to grow the town council is trying to mitigate the strain on infrastructure.

One step taken by the council was to form a traffic management working party, which consulted with the public and examined how to minimise tourism’s impact on the roads.

The group’s findings were presented at a council meeting on January 8 and recommendations for changes and improvements to parking restrictions were put forward.

They included a request to have all seasonal parking restrictions changed so that they are in force all the year round and some additional restrictions to be implemented where problems have been highlighted by residents.

A spokesperson for the council said that the town had become extremely popular even at times that are typically regarded as out of season and this is why having seasonal parking is no longer effective.

“The town now attracts visitors all year round and parking during the school holidays and weekends has become a significant problem,” he said.

At the meeting, councillors backed the working group’s recommendations and said that a report will now be sent to the County Council through Councillor Dr Marie Strong.

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The report will ask the county council to give the recommendations some consideration and where possible implement the changes.

“Wells is much loved as evidenced by many visitors not only during the summer but throughout the winter,” said Dr Strong.

“Visitors are welcomed and are valuable to the local economy. However residents find it intolerable when, despite winter availability of car park spaces, once summer restrictions are lifted inconsiderate drivers block driveways and park dangerously.

“After discussion prior to and during the Town Council meeting, Councillors voted to extend restrictions to the winter. Understandably there are residents who prefer the status quo which allows them to park near their homes during the winter.

“However the Town Council felt it would be impractical to exclude some roads from the proposal, as promised I am continuing with enquiries as to whether residents’ parking would be viable in Wells.”

Last year the Wells Coastal Communities Team (WCCT), which was formed to draw up an economic plan for the area, also began working on their own plan for dealing with the strains brought on by tourism.

Their goal is to create a Destination Management Plan, which will use feedback to develop a long term plan for tackling infrastructure issues.

Town council chairman Allen Frary has given his support to the plan and said he hopes that it will contribute to the council’s work in addressing the growth in tourism.