Controversial Thatcham parking charges set to remain
Residents' say that charges have caused danger on nearby roads
CAR-parking charges, which Thatcham residents say are to blame for causing hazards on nearby roads, are likely to remain in place.
Earlier this year, residents submitted a 161-strong petition calling for the council to remove parking fees at the Burdwood Centre, Wheeler’s Green Way, saying that they had led to a greater number of drivers parking on-street to avoid paying the charges there, and at Thatcham station.
The parked vehicles were creating a danger for pedestrians and road users alike, the residents said.
Parking at Burdwood had been free since the centre opened in the 1980s but, in 2012, West Berkshire councillors voted to make visitors pay to park, with parking free for up to two hours, 80p for up to three hours, and £2 for more.
The decision to implement the charge was delayed after 648 people signed a petition against the move and Thatcham Town Council asked for a suspension to allow residents to be consulted.
The fees were introduced the following year, however, with the council estimating that it would raise some £1,250 gross income in a full financial year.
Since then, the gross income has exceeded this figure, with the council making £1,348 in the 2013/14 financial year and £2,565 in the following period. It is estimated the income will be £3,698 this year.
The council has recommended that the charges remain, despite the latest petition, in order to “optimise parking income and to ensure that the users of the Burdwood Centre car park contribute to the running costs”.
The council said in a report: “While modest, this income more than meets the annual running costs of the car park and it is an important element in the council’s annual car parks income stream.”
On road safety, the council said that the charges had not had an adverse impact, although it admitted that some motorists would park elsewhere to avoid paying.
The council report said there was sufficient width on Wheeler’s Green Way for on-street parking and for two-way traffic, other than the largest of vehicles, to pass with care. The report concluded by saying that there was no guarantee that on-street parking would cease if the charges were removed.
The former Liberal Democrat leader of Thatcham Town Council, Bob Morgan, who presented the petition on behalf of residents, said: “There was a strong opinion locally that the on-street parking problems had become much worse since the charges were introduced.
“Many felt the parking problems were causing danger to pedestrians, especially children, when they had to cross the roads through parked vehicles. If the Conservative-led council thinks it is more important to cause these problems than to listen to local people then I hope residents remember that come the next election.”