Final cost of Market Place project still up in the air
THE COUNCIL has admitted that it doesn’t know the final figure for the Market Place project, but has promised that there is no cost to residents. Opposition councillors said the money spent on the regeneration could have been spent on other issues, such as repairing footpaths and potholes. The project, which is now in its final stages, is said to cost £3.8 million, but by the time it has finished will have overrun by seven months. It is not currently known whether contractors Balfour Beatty or Wokingham Borough Council will be picking up the costs for the project. Wokingham Town Council has capped its involvement to half of the £3.8 million.
Cllr Stuart Munro, Executive member for Business, Economic Development and Strategic Planning at Wokingham Borough Council, said:
“The overall cost to the local taxpayer for the improvement project is zero, because this investment in the future of the town is funded entirely by developer contributions, including S106 and Community Infrastructure Levy. “The overall budget is £3.8 million, plus contingency, which is split 50/50 between Wokingham Borough Council and Wokingham Town Council. “We will not know what the final cost is until we have concluded the contract because there will remain elements to resolve with the contractor, which is normal for a contract of this type.”
Cllr Shepherd-DuBey said the new signs will allow vehicles to be parked on one side of Denmark Street, but only overnight for 30 minutes from 7pm. During the day trucks will be allowed to load and unload including at peak times.
She promised the Lib Dems would be pursuing the issue with the Borough Council.
“The reason we are concerned about this is not just the lack of transparency.
“It’s that we simply do not understand why the parking has been set up as it has. Parts of it seem to me to be not very safe, and other parts not very sensible.
“I am going to keep digging to identify who decided to do this, when they decided it and what they based their decision on. This project has cost at least £3.8 million.
“We know people are querying the use of the stone, and the lack of proper kerbs. Now we have to add the parking set up to our concerns. It really is not good enough.”
A spokesperson for Wokingham Borough Council said: “The Market Place was designed following consultation with disability and access groups and we have increased the number of disabled parking bays in Market Place to seven as part of the project.
“All the new disabled bays are large enough – and meet size requirements – and are fully signed. There are also separate loading bays in Denmark Street to ensure that shop deliveries can be made without blocking the road or taking up disabled spaces.
The traffic regulation order is an ‘experimental’ one, which means it has been put in place at the same time as it is being consulted on. This gives us the flexibility to see how it is working and receive comments while it is actually working, which is a great benefit in a newly designed location such as this.”