Building of new park and ride in Earley’s Thames Valley Park queried by residents at Wokingham Council meeting

WORK on a park and ride that would have been linked to the bus lane bridge over the River Thames at the Kennetmouth was queried in the meeting of Wokingham Borough Council on Thursday, July 18.

Resident John Walker wanted the council to pause works and consider the use of a trial park and ride service making use of one of the currently unused office car parks on the TVP site.

Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said that the funding was provided by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVBLEP) based on a business case which did not consider the East Reading MRT project.

She added: “There are sufficient benefits without it to progress with the scheme in the knowledge that it will provide value for money. The main objective of the scheme is to help reduce congestion, particularly on the A4 corridor.

“The option of trialling the use of existing Business Park car park capacity was investigated and discounted in the Option Appraisal Report submitted to the TVBLEP in 2017. Any trial ahead of completing the final park and ride project would therefore be costly duplication even if it were possible to obtain access to any currently vacant site.

“Work on the site is well progressed with completion expected in the autumn.”

The Thames Valley Park park ride. The area used to be scrubland and was well used by residents, especially during blackberry picking season Picture: Phil Creighton

And resident John Mullaney also wanted to know why no operational costs were considered when the site was approved.

He asked: “Will Wokingham Borough Council have operational responsibilities for the site and what is the operational budget that has been projected for the site and what is the envisaged scope that this budget will cover?”

Cllr Jorgensen confirmed the council would operate the car park.
“Income from parking will be used to fund this as well as contributing to the bus service.

“It is currently projected that, even with a relatively low usage, the carpark will cover its own costs and with a high usage it would actually generate income for the council.”

Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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