NEW disabled parking bays are being installed in a Wokingham town centre car park, but due to bad weather, the finishing touches have been delayed. The result, according to one resident, is confusion for both disabled and able-bodied motorists.
Earlier this month, Wokingham Borough Council purchased the Euro Car Parks portion of Denmark Street Car Park, along with associated buildings, for £7.95 million. Since then, it has worked to fully reopen the car park, bringing additional parking spaces to the town centre.
But in the rush to make the space fit for purpose, the car park hasn’t been fully completed before being pressed back into use.
Earlier this week, new signs appeared above two parking bays informed car park users that these spaces were for disabled users. However, the bays are still the same size as spaces for able-bodied people.
Eagle-eyed Wokingham.Today reader Daniel Gillings got in touch to share his concerns and wondered if it would be another money-making scheme for the council.
“In the recently re-opened car park, the council have sneakily turned the end two parking bays of the double rows into disabled bays,” he said. “It is really unclear and, quite frankly, non-compliant.
“The only thing to show that they are disabled bays is a signpost, installed in the middle of the two bays.
“I didn’t even notice this and it was only a kind gentleman who knocked on my window as I parked up who informed me and told me that people had already been ticketed.”
Mr Gillings said that the bays currently don’t have a wheelchair symbol or 1.2 metres of yellow hatchings painted around each of the bays.
“I am quite certain that any ticket could be successfully challenged but I wonder how many people will be bothered to do so, aside from the inconvenience and waste of time that this would cause,” he said.
But the council told Wokingham.Today that the bays were a work in progress, and they would be relined, but the work had been delayed due to bad weather.
Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, leader of Wokingham Town Council, added: “Wokingham Borough Council are aware of this problem in the Denmark Street Car Park, but haven’t been able to re-paint the bays because the weather has not been dry enough.
“They intend to do so, as soon as the weather allows them to.
“I think we all understand that this car park was bought back into service very quickly after its purchase and is still subject to changes.
“There would be a lot of complaints if we waited for everything to be perfect, but there is more work to be done.
“I am reassured now, that painting these bays properly has not been forgotten.”
That explanation still left some councillors with concerns, especially over the way in which the disabled spaces in Market Place had been arranged. Nearly two years on, the bays are still awaiting the installation of special markings and studs, although Wokingham.Today understands that they will be installed soon.
Cllr Rachel Burgess, Labour councillor Norreys ward, felt that it was disappointing the work was still to be completed.
“Residents and visitors to Wokingham will not have forgotten how the accessibility concerns of people with disabilities were largely set aside during the massively-delayed town centre regeneration project. And now, in the haste to reopen Denmark Street car park, we hear that once more their needs are not being met in Wokingham.
“Disabled parking bays should be clearly marked. Obviously they should be wide enough to accommodate transfer from car to wheelchair – why are such basics being ignored?
“It is difficult enough for those with a range of disabilities to park and access Wokingham town centre safely – it is staggering that these simple mistakes are still being made.”
She added: “Back in July, the Council passed a motion stressing the importance of the Equalities Act and committing to Equality Impact Assessments when required – but it seems these warm words have already been forgotten.
“This must be resolved swiftly and our disabled residents and visitors given priority when it comes to car parking.”