Call for probe into ‘dan­ger­ous’ dis­abled bays

The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By JAMES HAST­INGS news@wok­ing­ham­pa­per.co.uk

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

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