Call for probe into ‘dangerous’ disabled bays
A WOKINGHAM councillor has called for an investigation into “dangerous” new parking restrictions on the revamped Market Place – but the council has said they meet the required standards.
Signs appeared this week on Denmark Street and Peach Place outlining disabled and loading restrictions.
But there are no road markings on the white York stone for either the parking bays or the traffic lane.
Now Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey wants to know who authorised the new parking regulations in the £3.8m project.
“I was taken by surprise when I saw the signs, because I had no idea they were coming,” said Cllr Shepherd-DuBey. “The new signs mean drivers and passengers would be opening their car doors onto the road at certain points which is obviously very dangerous. The parking area and the pavement are of a similar colour with nothing obvious to separate them.
“Many blue badge holders have vehicles with rear hoists for wheelchairs, and without proper markings there is nothing to stop cars parking too close behind them in the disabled parking zone and there is a very real risk of disabled people having to unload into the street.”
Cllr Shepherd-DuBey contacted the Borough Council about the new signage and says she was told it was an “experimental” set up, which does not need formal consultation.
She added: “I have so far been unable to find out who made this decision, or why and I have never heard of an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order”.
Liberal Democrat councillor Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, who represents Emmbrook ward, said: “We could have used that money for lots of other things. It’s all been 100% consumed by Market Place and the CIL contributions have been taken from other areas.”
She cited potential projects such as improving the footpath by St Paul’s church, which she said is “crumbling”.
“Cllr Mirfin said in a full council meeting that an audit over the Market Place project would come from the highways budget, but that’s money that could have been spent fixing footpaths and pavements, not an audit the public will never see.”
She felt that Balfour Beatty should have had a fixed term contract. “When you go and pick up your dry cleaning, you don’t expect to be told it will cost X amount more, you expect it to be figure you agreed when you dropped it in.
“The figures should be released to the public as soon as possible. They need to know how bad it is, they need to know why it’s gone over £3.8 million.”
This was a view echoed by Labour group leader Cllr Andy Croy.
The Bulmershe and Whitegates councillor said: “It’s money that could have been spent on other projects.”
He promised that when the party knew the true figure, they would be shouting about it.
“It’s difficult to know who’s in charge of the project,” he added.
“I’m not surprised that people are evading responsibility.”
The new experimental parking bays in Market Place