UPDATE - LAST CHANCE TO STOP THE HUGE CAR PARKING INCREASES
Once again many thanks to the 4,000 plus residents who lodged their objections to these proposals by signing the petition. We also thank the 40 Woodley businesses who signed a letter pointing out the impact it would have on their business and staff.
There is still no business case available for anyone to scrutinise the numbers but we have unearthed some important facts from the Executive Member for Highways.
- The off-street car parks, excluding the Park and Rides, are not losing money. They are operating at 95% of pre pandemic usage levels.
- The park and Rides are currently running at around a £600K loss.
- The extra income (if there is any) from these increases will be used to subsidise the Park and Rides.
- The Park and Ride charges are not being increased.
The final action by the Lib / Lab Administration is to carry out the legal part of implementing changes. This is through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) which is a legal document. It has to be advertised in at least one paper.
From the date of that publication anyone has 21 days to comment on the proposals in the TRO.
We have been told the publication date of this TRO is 15 December so you have until 29 January to lodge your comments with the council.
In order to do this you can
Send an email to TM Consultations TM.Consultations@wokingham.gov.uk
OR you can write a letter by post (or hand deliver to save a stamp) to Wokingham Borough Council, Place & Growth, PO Box 155, Shute End, Wokingham, Berks RG40 1WW.
What has happened:
On Thursday 29 September the LibDem led Coalition's Executive agreed to increase parking charges across Wokingham Borough. Following feedback from residents and businesses, some changes were made from the originally proposed increases. These changes established a two-tier system with lower increases for car parks outside of Wokingham town centre in Woodley and Twyford.
From January 2023 Wokingham Borough Council will double most car parking charges. It will also start charging for parking on Sundays, Bank Holidays and in evenings up to 10pm.
The strength of public support for this campaign was incredible - 4238 people signed the petition which was presented at the Council meeting on 20 October 2022.
The result was a debate on the parking increases in the 17 November Council meeting. Conservative Cllrs argued passionately that the increases were unfair and unconsidered as the impact on local businesses will be severe. You can view the debate here - Council Meeting, 17 November 2022 at 7.30pm - YouTube
The motion to stop the car parking charge increases was not won as the Liberal Democrat and Labour Councillors all voted against it - they voted to keep the increases.
Independent Cllr Gary Cowan also voted to keep the increases, and Cllr Jim Fruin abstained.
Since the petition motion fell, the Mayor was then asked by Cllr Pauline Jorgensen that this be referred back to the Executive meeting for re-consideration. This is in light of the many concerns of residents and businesses and the lack of analysis of the fall in parking revenue. The wholly LIbDem Executive voted to continue with the increases.
Our petition called on the Council to drop these punitive increases for the following reasons:
- Residents face significant cost increases in every part of their lives due to the cost of living crisis. It is wrong to raise charges at this time
- Retailers in our town centres are recovering from the effects of Covid. They do not need their trade damaged by punitive car parking charges.
- It is in the interests of every resident that we have vibrant and active town centres which draw people to visit them - these charges will be a disincentive to visiting your local towns and damaging to the local economy
- Restaurants and Bars face a challenging economic environment due to the costs of energy. We do not want to drive them out of business by putting people off parking in the town centres in the evenings
If you would like to be kept informed of the progress of this campaign please add your name to the petition.
The next stage is the Traffic Regulation Order consultation when residents can object to the increased charges. We will let you know when the TRO consultation begins.