Liberal Democrat councillors in Wokingham have forced a review of a Conservative decision to introduce charges in council car parks for parking in the evenings and on Sundays. The Conservative Executive took the decision on 31st March, against opposition from the public.
The Liberal Democrats have submitted a formal notice requiring Wokingham Borough’s Overview & Scrutiny committee to hold an inquiry into the decision. They want a review because of significant concerns about the way in which the Executive decision was reached. The recommendations coming out of the review will be sent to the Executive for them to consider before they retake the decision. The charges cannot be introduced until after the review has taken place.
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Councillor Lindsay Ferris, was the first to sign the notice. He says “The idea of charging for parking overnight and on Sundays came out of the blue. We don’t know what led to it being proposed. We haven’t seen any detailed evidence to support the claim that it can raise £150,000 a year. And there is no analysis of the different parking needs in different parts of the Borough or the impact that charging will have on the different local areas. It is just not good enough.”
Councillor Tom McCann agrees. He says “The decision the Executive took on 31st March will allow them to bring in evening and Sunday parking charges in all the council car parks, including in Woodley, which is my area. But earlier on in the meeting the Conservatives had said they were going to add 10p an hour to daytime parking charges in Woodley instead of introducing evening and Sunday charging. I don’t know why they decided to treat Woodley differently. I know even less about why, having said they were going to treat Woodley differently, they then voted to treat it the same as everywhere else. It’s a complete shambles!”
Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey, councillor for Winnersh added “The Lib Dems have been calling for a comprehensive parking plan for the Borough for about 2 years. Instead we get a proposal to introduce evening and Sunday parking charges that doesn’t even take into consideration the emergency changes to parking that are going on in Wokingham town right now! This is not a sensible way to do things.”
The Liberal Democrats will continue to argue for a parking strategy for the whole Borough which covers both car parks and on-street parking.