Sat, 20 Jul 2019
PROPOSALS to introduce car parking charges at the Kennet Leisure Centre are being considered.
West Berkshire Council is thinking of bringing in the charges in a bid to discourage long-term parking.
Council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said: “For some years, patrons of the Kennet Leisure Centre have voiced frustrations at being unable to find a parking space.
“It is hoped that the Parking Order will reduce the number of vehicles that are left for long periods by people who do not use the leisure centre and optimise parking for the leisure centre customers.”
Under the proposals, the first two hours parking will be free and a ticket must be taken from the machine and displayed in the vehicle.
To park for three hours will cost £1, but to park for more than three hours will cost £10.
Payments must be made by mobile phone only and drivers cannot return for four hours after their allocation expires.
Parking must be paid at the start of a stay and topping up is not permitted.
The centre car park has 78 parking spaces and the council is proposing that 28 be allocated to Kennet School between 7.30am and 5.30pm to use on weekdays during term time.
Another 20 permits will be issued to the leisure centre for staff use, leaving 30 spaces for leisure centre customers on weekdays between 7.30am and 5.30pm.
The 28 spaces allocated to Kennet will be available to customers outside these hours and during school holidays.
Conservative councillor Steve Ardargh-Walter (Thatcham Coltrop and Crookham) said that the charges were needed.
He said: “There’s been a problem up until now in that the legitimate users who need to drive to the leisure centre haven’t been able to because all the spaces are used.
“I think it’s the fairest way.”
When asked about the possible impact on neighbouring streets, Mr Ardagh-Walter said it would depend on who was parking there.
He said there was not “limitless capacity on surrounding streets” and that the problem “shifted around” when parking charges were introduced.
But he hoped that “with the increasing environmental awareness”, Kennet members might consider alternative modes of transport to avoid “a considerable overspill”.
When asked if the charges were a way for the financially challenged council to generate revenue, Mr Ardagh-Walter said: “No. I think it will be modest, bearing in mind that leisure centre users will get two hours.”
The Kennet Leisure Centre is managed as a joint venture by an advisory committee between West Berkshire and Thatcham Town Council.
Shadow portfolio holder for culture Erik Pattenden (Lib Dem, Greenham) said decisions should be made through a consultation process between both councils.
He said: “My fellow Lib Dems on Thatcham Town Council and I are fully aware of parking issues during busy times, but are disappointed that in proposing this Parking Order amendment there has been no approach to the new council to discuss it in advance of the introduction of charges and, as a result, it appears rushed and the charges arbitrary.
“Given the new scheme will leave just 30 spaces for the public, it also concerns us that the impact on local residents has not been fully considered.
“Finally, we are also disappointed there has been no recognition of the recently declared climate emergency by both West Berkshire and Thatcham Town Council with this amendment and the issue of parking provision at the leisure centre.
“This would have been an ideal opportunity to introduce infrastructure for electrical car charging and encourage alternative forms of green transport, including cycling, in line with the Lib Dem approach to tackling the climate emergency.”
Any comments must be sent to the head of transport and countryside at West Berkshire Council, Jon Winstanley, council offices, Market Street, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5LD quoting reference 006583MS, by no later than July 25.