Walk Before You Run: What the Car Park Debacle Says About Regeneration

Last week, residents and visitors across the Borough have continued to struggle to park their cars in the Royal Borough.

In Maidenhead, residents trying to park at the Magnet Leisure Centre had a big surprise when they found that they now have to compete for spaces with Council employees since the closure of the Town Hall car park. With employees naturally arriving first, it’s meant they’ve had to find another place to park so they can attend leisure activities, go shopping or carry out other business in town. Perhaps they’ll end up trying their luck on one of a number of residential roads nearby, joining many others who have parked on them, sometimes inconsiderately, which has resulted in upset for the residents. Luckily for them, Council plans to introduce business permit parking along these roads were recently shelved after strong public opposition, leaving Councillors no other choice but to cancel the proposed plans. Had this plan been pushed through, residents and visitors would have had an even tougher time parking.

Residents in Windsor have long asked for new machines that would do three things: Charge the appropriate amount, take payment easily and issue the appropriate ticket. The Council promised new machines would be installed in 2018, but that deadline wasn’t met. They then promised delivery in the New Year, but that deadline was also missed. When new machines were finally installed, they didn't recognise Advantage Cards and didn't charge the right price, resulting in queues of angry and frustrated residents. Worse still for some, the machines didn't take cash, exasperating things further. The nearby Library and Leisure Centre were set up to issue updated Advantage Cards and/or temporary barcodes, but these have also failed to work properly.

Despite assurances that all was in order, residents are still experiencing problems. It didn't help that Cllr Simon Dudley, the current Leader of the Council, claimed that the machines were working, and that, 'there were absolutely no issues anywhere’, which is still not true. Adding insult to injury, last week RBWM published the new parking charges effective 8 April. Despite promises by Tories NOT to increase charges to Advantage Card holders, the free evening/overnight/weekend parking available in some car parks has been withdrawn, for example Victoria Street, Windsor, according to the Off Street Parking Places Order 2008 as published in the Express 8 March 2019. Another blow to residents and our evening economy.

Parking woes can also be found in Sunningdale, where the Council has also long struggled to get parking right. When the one parking machine was stolen, the Council replaced it with a new one that barely worked for more than a day. Whenever it was serviced, it would fail time and again. Parking is free for up to 3 hours, but those wanting to stay longer are unable to get a ticket from the broken machine and are afraid to park there for fear of getting a fine. (For more information on parking woes in Sunningdale, see Valerie Pike's blog here: https://www.theboroughfirst.org/single-post/2019/01/28/How-Not-to-Park-Cars).

With promises to rebuild our Borough with hundreds of new homes and, for Maidenhead, a new town centre, one can't help but wonder how the current administration can achieve these goals if they can't get something as simple as parking right. Makes me wonder what else will residents have to endure?

The car park chaos shows us just how important it is to plan carefully, and to make decisions based on evidence and community needs. If Councillors work with members of the community, it becomes much easier to address problems like parking and build trust for the bigger things like regeneration.

Nasreen Brittain, one of our candidates for Boyn Hill ward where she has lived for 16 years, is passionate about ensuring that town planning is matched by improved infrastructure and facilities, alongside a parking and road strategy that meets the needs of residents and commuters.

Published and Promoted by Charles Hollingsworth on behalf of “the BOROUGH first“, both of PO BOX 4919, Maidenhead, SL60 1LS

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