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News Bulletin: January 2010

It has been clear for some time that very many residents want free short term parking in the Reading Road Car Park to help shopping, the school run and visits to Medical facilities in particular. The idea received a spontaneous round of applause at the Annual Village Meeting last April. A trial will take place from 1st January 2010 to 28th February 2010 and during the trial the Parish Council will reimburse 35p on production of the reminder slip from 30 minute tickets and 70p on production of the reminder slip from one hour tickets. There will be no partial reimbursement for longer stays. If the trial proves popular Hart expect to install a new machine which will issue a ticket for up to one hour at no charge. Parking restrictions are very likely to be introduced near the school in early 2010 both for safety reasons and to protect residents’ drives. We know that a number of school-runners drive right past the Reading Road car park to the already overcrowded Parish Council Car Park where measures are likely to be introduced to enforce disabled and permit holder spaces and improve safety. Please help make the trial a success by changing habits now and using the Reading Road Car Park from 1st January.

A number of businesses have kindly agreed to help by providing cash reimbursement on presentation of the reminder slip from 35p and 70p tickets namely Londis, Just Quality Flooring, Trees, Hook Dental and Boots Chemists in addition to the Parish Council office. The Infant and Junior Schools hope to participate and will provide information in their newsletters. The Parish Council will then cover the refunds from your Council Tax. For legal reasons we are unable to promote the refund scheme in the car park itself.

Whilst we are sorry that the need to buy a ticket and obtain a refund will involve a certain amount of hassle this has proved to be the only practical way of running the trial. Considerable effort has gone into reaching this stage and we need your support if the free parking for up to one hour scheme is to become permanent. If the scheme does not receive support reimbursement will cease and the project will be abandoned. There are no viable alternatives in prospect. Reminder slips can be “saved up” but please submit them for reimbursement by 14th March 2010 at the latest.

On a number of occasions we have mentioned Hart’s intention of closing the public toilets in Reading Road due to the high cost of routine cleaning and overall maintenance. Although we have mentioned possible closure in Focus on a number of occasions we have had minimal reaction from residents and it may not be appreciated that once they are closed and boarded up the facility will be lost forever. Hart has now set a closure date of the end of March 2010 unless the Parish Council takes on responsibility for them. We are working on an idea which would retain one unisex/disabled toilet but convert the rest of the building to one or two lettable kiosks which should provide sufficient income to fund the running costs of the building as a whole. The total lettable space would be about 345 sq.ft.. and ideally suited to two retail units each staffed by one person. Anyone who might be interested is asked to contact the Parish Council Office.

September Focus mentioned that, after studying the traffic flows through Four Acre Coppice, Highways were of the view that the most appropriate way forward would be to introduce an “Access Only” restriction. However the Police are more inclined towards a road closure with the implication that all traffic from the Holt Lane area, including Holt Park, would travel via the A30. Comments to please!

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor