Fi­nal cost of Mar­ket Place project still up in the air

The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By PHIL CREIGHTON news@wok­ing­ham­pa­

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.”

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