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Opposition councillors fear parking 'chaos' over plans to introduce charges in free car parks

James Bagley. Local Democracy Reporter

Opposition councillors fear parking 'chaos' over plans to introduce charges in free car parks

The Royal Borough Liberal Democrats fear parking 'chaos' from Tory proposals to introduce charges to free out-of-town car parks.

The Lib Dems have put forward a petition demanding the 'cash-strapped' Conservative council do not introduce charges for parking to the 12 out-of-town car parks as part of the draft 2021/22 budget.

They fear this could cause empty car parks with congestion on neighbouring roads, and may lead to more residents’ parking schemes, charging residents to park outside their own home.

Some of the car parks concerned – which are covered by Traffic Regulation Orders – include the Clewer War Memorial Recreation Ground (the Pirate Park), Desborough Park, the High Street in Hurley, Hayward’s Meadow in Eton Wick, and more.

Councillor Amy Tisi (Lib Dem, Clewer East) said: “We’ve given the Conservatives several suggestions for alternative ways of saving money. Sadly these have all been dismissed, whilst their own ideas are creating chaos across the borough.”

In response, councillor David Cannon (Con,  Datchet, Horton, and Wraysbury), lead member for parking and public protection, said it wasn’t 'feasible' for the council to maintain free car parks while having very low council tax during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “The borough’s finances, aggravated by the current Covid issues, mean that we have to manage our parking estate responsibly and it is not feasible to have our very low council tax and still maintain such free facilities in these difficult times.

“It is always a difficult decision to propose to charge for previously free facilities, but unless we charge those that use these facilities, there will have to be cuts in other, even less palatable services.”

He added Ockwells Park car park is not one covered by the Traffic Regulation Orders and is a private car park managed by Parks and Open Spaces – therefore outside of this proposal.

Cllr Cannon urged residents to put their views on this and other budget issues forward via the ongoing budget consultation.

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