Parking hike to hit ramblers not shoppersBy Victoria Corbett
January 27, 2011
Parking charges at country parks are to soar by up to 65 per cent to avoid a hefty increase in fees for parking in Wokingham and Woodley town centres.
Drivers visiting Dinton Pastures in Hurst or California Country Park in Finchampstead will be asked to pay £1 for one hour, up from 60p, and £1.50 for two hours, an increase from £1.20, instead of large hikes in town centre parking charges.
This would have meant increasing charges in the Rose Street car park in Wokingham and Lytham Road East car park in Woodley from 70p to £1.20 for one hour and from £1.20 to £2.20 for two hours.
The executive member for highways and corporate affairs at Wokingham Borough Council says he will recommend the changes at a meeting today to avoid hitting town centre users in the pocket.
The council’s executive committee is due to rubber-stamp its proposals for car park charges for the next financial year tonight at Shute End.
Parking at pay and display car parks is to double at Winnersh Triangle and Station Road in Earley from £2 to £4 for the day. Parking at Polehampton Close in Twyford will increase from £3 to £4 for the day.
Councillor Keith Baker, executive member for highways and corporate affairs, says this increase is to bring the borough in line with other local authorities in the area, adding Windsor & Maidenhead charges £5.50 for station parking.
He said council officers singled out Rose Street for a hike in charges and not the other Wokingham town car parks as it is more popular with shoppers due to its central location.
Although Cllr Baker is to recommend these proposals are dropped, he has not ruled out future price changes.
He said while increasing the country park charges will not make up for the £33,000 the council could make from increasing town centre charges, the financial situation is too grave to expect people to pay extra money to park in the town.
Carol Rose, from California Dreaming Café at the California Country Park, said: “We would not be happy with the parking prices going up as it affects our trade.
“A lot of people come here just to walk the dog, so they wouldn’t be happy with the price increase.”
Although the country park price increase will be unpopular, increasing charges in the town centre could hit footfall for traders.
Mary Piasecki, owner of Hudson Bay in Denmark Street, Wokingham, said: “There really is not enough shops in the town to warrant a £1 increase in car parking.
“The night time economy is very strong in Wokingham and we think they should have something put on the night traders, like £1.”
The Rose Street car park will make way for a new town square surrounded by shops when the town centre regeneration of the Peach Place area gets under way in four years.
However, the town will have more parking spaces following the regeneration, with a new car park planned for Elms Field and a new multi-storey car park.
The council’s executive will meet at 7.30pm.