Wokingham toddler dance class in doubt as ‘selfish’ motorists clog up a car park

A POPULAR toddlers’ dance class could be forced to close due to selfish motorists clogging a community car park.

Andrea Bickford who runs the Diddi Dance group says people leave their cars all day at the Wokingham Youth and Community Centre despite notices warning it is for centre users only.

She has spent the past year asking council bosses to clamp down on inconsiderate drivers but claims they have refused to take action despite owning the car park.

Now Andrea fears the class she has run for five years and which has a lengthy waiting list could be forced to close.

“The problem is getting worse rather than better and I fear I might have to stop the dance class,” she said.

“Parents and carers have to drive round and round hoping for a space in the car park or are being forced to park further away which is not a good idea when you have children as young as two coming to the class.

“I feel really sorry for them and have been on at the council since May last year, but I am just passed from one office to another. No one wants to help.”

Andrea warned other groups using the centre could also be forced out and says the problem has been caused by the car park closures in the town.

“It appears people now park in the Community Centre car park early in the morning and then walk into town to work or across the road to the station.

“This means that anybody using the hall during the middle of the day has got no hope of finding a parking space. The council keep telling me that they are powerless to dictate who uses the car park and don’t seem able, or indeed willing, to do anything about the problem.

“I am finding this incredibly frustrating as I feel that they should be taking responsibility. Surely hall users have the right to park in the hall car park.”

Liz Watson, who brings her three-year-old grandson to the weekly class said she regularly experiences problems with parking.

“As the children are so young, we stay with them for the class and participate too so we don’t just drop them off and return at the end,” she explained.

“I arrive around 9.45am and it’s very rare for a space to be available. It is obvious not all the car owners are actually using the centre at that time in the morning. I think the council should introduce a parking attendant who could monitor the situation and prevent drivers using it as a free all-day car park.”

Roger Norris drives to the class from Riseley with his two-year-old granddaughter.

“She absolutely loves the class as do all the children,” he explained.

“I think most of the motorists who leave their cars here are actually council workers who don’t want to pay for parking. The council should warn them that it will take down their licence numbers if they continue to abuse the community car park in this way.

“If there was a warden on patrol in the morning, they would be able to ask drivers why they are parking here as many do from around seven o’clock.”

A Wokingham Borough Council spokesperson said: “The car park is intended to provide parking for youth and community centre users and the council is investigating options to alleviate the parking issues currently being experienced”.

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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