Airport bosses have been accused of turning parts of South Bristol into a “giant unregulated car park” with holidaymakers leaving vehicles outside residents’ homes for weeks on end. Tory Cllr Richard Eddy, who recently slammed Bristol Airport for scrapping free travel on the Airport Flyer bus for most OAP concessionary passholders, has hit out again, saying that decision to “rat” on the deal is fuelling ill-feeling about inconsiderate parking in Bedminster Down.
The fact that aeroplane passengers are leaving vehicles in neighbourhood streets to catch that same A1 Flyer bus service for £8 per journey and avoid expensive on-site parking is only compounding the frustration. Bristol Airport says it would be happy to work with Cllr Eddy to resolve the car parking issue but that any new on-street restrictions would be down to the local authority.
In April, the Bishopsworth ward councillor accused the airport of “discriminating against the elderly and infirm” with its decision to stop allowing Diamond Card holders to make local trips on the route while still accepting paying customers. He said that although the service between the airport, Bristol bus station and Temple Meads was intended primarily for people jetting off on flights, it had become a “lifeline” for many in western Bedminster Down and Highridge which have poor public transport.
The deal for the commercial express bus to pick up locals, as well as airport customers and staff who live in South Bristol, was originally negotiated with Bristol City Council. When air passengers dropped during the pandemic, the A1 Flyer’s route was changed, it made more stops and residents with the authority’s concessionary passes could use them.
But with increasing aviation custom, airport managers decided they needed the spare capacity again and reverted to pre-covid use of the local authority card on April 24. Now Cllr Eddy says residential streets such as the top of Kings Head Lane, Marguerite Road and Poplar Road in Bedminster Down have been inundated in recent weeks by sunseekers
He said: “The problem of informal airport car parking in this part of Bedminster Down has been an inconvenience for years, but was masked by the downturn in airport passenger trade during the covid pandemic and, to some extent, accepted by the community as a price worth paying as part of local people being allowed to use the Airport Flyer. Now, of course, Bristol International Airport bosses have ratted on their side of the deal by axing local residents’ use of the Flyer.
“At the same time, the number of airport passengers parking free of charge in residential streets has soared. Householders have to endure motorists parked 24/7 outside their homes for a week or a fortnight.
“Last weekend a resident of Kings Walk told me they had one car parked there for eight weeks.” Kings Head Lane householder Mike Willcox said: “Last week, practically every car parked at the top of Kings Head Lane was for the airport with hardly any room for residents to park.
“We get cars coming and going in the middle of the night, banging their car doors and boots, keeping people awake.” A Bristol Airport spokesperson said: “We’d be happy to work with Cllr Eddy to get this issue with car parking resolved but any new parking restrictions would be down to the local authority.
“We’re committed to providing alternatives to the car for the passengers travelling to and from Bristol Airport. The A1 Airport Flyer is a busy, dedicated airport service that links us with Bristol’s city centre, bus station and Temple Meads railway station.
“When the number of air passengers dropped during the pandemic, the A1 Flyer’s route was temporarily changed, it made more stops, and residents with local council concessionary passes were able to use them. The number of air passengers has now largely returned to normal, so the A1 Airport Flyer has returned to being an express service for air passengers and staff, but we do offer subsidised bus travel for those living in the rural areas closest to Bristol Airport and holders of the Bristol Airport Local Concessions card.”