Changes made to parking charges on 3rd October 2011 at the Dunstall Close and Recreation Road car parks in Tilehurst caused concern amongst local business owners and shoppers. As a result of the changes, free parking at these car parks was reduced from one hour to half an hour. Local representatives argue that this does not provide enough time for residents, particularly the elderly, to do their shopping, banking, run other errands and return to their car within half an hour. Local traders have quoted drops in their revenue, explaining that the new charging scheme has resulted in customers choosing to shop elsewhere.
Achievements to date:
Alok, along with Tilehurst Councillor Sandra Vickers, arranged a number of meetings with Reading Borough Council to give local business representatives and residents an opportunity to discuss the issue.
At the meetings the Council was persuaded to look again at the charging scheme and propose an alternative scheme which included the restoration of the first hour free parking. The Council subsequently offered to reinstate the first hour free parking if a total of 20-25 annual season tickets at a cost of £250 each were purchased by the Tilehurst businesses for the two car parks.
A number of local business representatives expressed their interest in purchasing season tickets, motivated by the potential reinstatement of the first hour of free parking.
Local representatives also suggested that another option that could potentially allow the Council to bring back the one hour free parking would be to extend the charging times of the car parks to 9am – 6pm for example. The Council undertook to consult with NCP on extending the charging hours.
“It is incredibly frustrating that Reading Borough Council does not seem to appreciate the impact that introducing charging for car parking has on local businesses and that it has been necessary for me to organise so many meetings to discuss this issue. While a 50p charge for the first hour might not seem like a lot of money, it does have an impact on the behaviour of shoppers, who will on principle go and park where they can park for free, chiefly at supermarkets. If the Council does not take action to bring back the free parking then the high street could be permanently damaged and local businesses may never recover. Of course this is not what anyone would want to see.”