Barcelona scraps free August parking, incensing residents

parking-meterBarcelona residents are seething over mayoress Ada Colau’s plans to stop the free parking in metered bays for the month of August.

The idea is to capitalise on tourism, at a time when a high number of residents will be off work and taking summer breaks in coastal areas.

But the Federation of Residents’ Associations in Barcelona (FAVB) is not happy at having to pay to park when August has traditionally been free of charge.

Shopkeepers and other business owners in the city are on the fence – some fear they will lose trade if customers have to pay to leave their cars, since they will go elsewhere instead, but others say it is better to free up parking bays for customer use, as they would otherwise be occupied all day long by workers or residents, and traders would still face the problem of fewer visitors due to a shortage of space.

Opponents, who include the souvenir shop association Barcelona Oberta, liken paid spaces to ‘privatising the city centre’.

PP leader in the city council, Alberto Fernández, says parking in green and blue bays ‘simply has to continue to be free of charge’ in August, ‘at the very least for Barcelona residents’, even if they do not live in the area they park in.

Even though many city dwellers will leave to head for the coast and country in August, many leave their cars behind at home when they do so – and they will not be able to afford to go on holiday if they have to pay on-street parking at home for the duration, Fernández insists.

Published Think Spain 6 July 2016

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