WOKINGHAM must get its car parking offering right.
That’s the view of the Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Lindsay Ferris.
While he welcomed the news that the borough council was buying the Denmark Street site, bringing to an end speculation that the site would be turned into housing, he felt that there were lessons to be learnt from the regeneration works.
In recent years, the town centre has seen three of its car parks close – in August last year, the part of the Denmark Street site run by Euro Car Parks was shut, but the council-owned Paddocks and Rose Street car parks were closed to allow regeneration works to take place to create Peach Place and the new Elms Field developments.
Cllr Ferris felt that this had damaged the town centre and the replacement car parks were not as effective.
“Businesses in Wokingham town need viable car parking for visitors,” he said. “We talked about free parking to encourage people back into Wokingham.
“The council took away The Paddocks car park and Rose Street car parks and didn’t think about keeping one of them open. We campaigned hard to keep one of them going – there was a lack of forethought to keep a car park in the centre of town.
“They have to get car parking right. Look at the mess they’ve made at Shute End, where they get more money from fines than people parking legitimately.”
But Cllr Ferris also welcomed the purchase of the Denmark Street site, which has 130 spaces.
Cllr Lyndsay Ferris, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Wokingham Borough Council, said that he was pleased that the sale had gone ahead.
“This is something that the Lib Dem group has been pushing for for a considerable amount of time,” he explained.
“I met with council officers in charge of the regeneration to say that if we were in control of the council, this is something that we would be doing.”
“We welcome the purchase of the site, but we don’t know how much they’ve paid.
Denmark Street car park’s location means that it is ideal for older customers who don’t want to walk far to get to the shops.
“Carnival Pool might not look far away, but it is if you are old,” he said. “We have been campaigning since there were rumours that the car park would close.”