The Wokingham Paper

Would you pay to drive into Reading? New consultation moots charging as an option

cropped px Sign for London ultra low emission zone geograph

A FEE could be introduced to drive into neighbouring Reading as the council looks to tackle congestion and air quality.

Back in January, it promised to launch a consultation after Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee rejected a scheme that would have seen a single-track bus-lane bridge plonked over the historic Kennetmouth – where the River Kennet connects to the River Thames. The bridge would have dwarfed two listed bridges designed by Brunel and concreted over a beauty spot.

The consultation began yesterday and includes traffic, parking, school traffic, air quality or cycle infrastructure.

As part of the exercise, the council has launched an online survey, and is sending leaflets to every household in Reading, hosting themed discussion sessions, holding public drop-in events and school workshops as well as meetings with neighbouring local authorities and transport operators.

Suggestions include schemes that charge drivers in certain zones or at certain times of the day or make some areas car-free altogether.

A “new river crossing” is one of the options listed in the consultation.

The council also aspires to make public transport faster and cheaper, while encouraging the use of car clubs and lift share schemes.

It also says it wants to add more buses and bus lanes to Reading’s roads.
Other options mooted include “reallocating road capacity from cars to more sustainable modes of transport” and providing dedicated spaces for walking and cycling that “are free of cars”.

In a statement, Cllr Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “Congestion and poor air quality is having a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of residents in Reading.

“Thousands of new homes being built in and around the town over the next few years will add to the number of journeys on a road network which is already at capacity. It is a situation no responsible local authority can ignore.

“Reading’s challenge is to successfully absorb the growth in housing, jobs and commuting in the future, whilst protecting the health of its residents.

“The Council does not have all the answers, which is why we are now asking residents, businesses, schools, interest groups and neighbouring local authorities for their input. This is Reading’s biggest ever transport consultation and will play a big part in shaping the future of transport in the town.

“Earlier this year the Council committed to work with partners towards a carbon-neutral Reading by 2030. That sort of change would require a major shift in people’s travel choices and sustainable transport solutions which offer realistic alternatives to the private car.

“Alongside other existing strategies, like the Reading 2050 vision, our new Local Transport Plan will underpin how we go about meeting that future challenge.”

The consultation can be seen here: www.pclconsult.co.uk/transport2036

Drop-in sessions

  • Tuesday 6th August, 3pm-6.30pm, South Reading Community Hub, 252 Northumberland Avenue, Whitley, RG2 7QA
  • Thursday 15th August, 3pm-7pm, Church House, 57 Church Street, Caversham, RG4 8AX
  • Wednesday 28th August, 3pm-7pm, The Salvation Army Centre, 522 Oxford Road, Reading, RG30 1EG
  • Wednesday 4th September, 3pm-7pm, Waterhouse Chamber, Reading Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH
  • Tuesday 10th September, 7am-10am, Reading Station Forecourt

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Vince

No I won’t drive into Reading if there is a charge. I will stop doing the voluntry work I do there and shop elsewhere.

Colin lewendon

That would be the final nail in Reading town centre this is one of worse most stupid things this council has come up with. Bracknell Basingstoke Newberry won’t be as stuped

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