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Car parking proposals defended - Opponents criticise locations for new park-and-rides

January 30, 2009 12:00 AM
By Laura Enfield laurae@baylismedia.co.uk in Windsor Express

CONTROVERSIAL plans to ease Windsor's parking problems were stoutly defended by the ruling Conservatives as they gave them the go-ahead last week.

A plan to provide an extra 900 parking spaces in the town was announced by the Royal Borough earlier this month. But members came under heavy fire at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, where the scheme was voted through unanimously. Opposition centred around the decision to create park and rides at Centrica and Windsor Racecourse in Maidenhead Road.

Mike Sullivan from West Windsor Residents' Association and Dr John Long, former president of Windsor and Eton Society, both spoke from the public gallery, echoing criticism they made in last week's Express. They feel the locations are nonsensical and will bring more traffic through the already congested town centre.

Councillors were berated over their decision to scrap plans to locate a park-and-ride for 100 coaches and 600 cars on land between the M4 and the turning to Slough.

But ruling members stood their ground, saying the location would not be reconsidered.Cllr Hilton (Con, Ascot and Cheapside) said: "Park and ride there would cost £19 million. That's £20,000 per space, which was clearly not viable. "This proposal will provide 900 spaces at a cost of £200 per space. That's 100 times less." Cllr Colin Rayner, head of highways and streetcare, ended the debate saying: "Park-and-ride on that ancient meadow is dead and won't happen on my watch."

He congratulated fellow councillors for securing £7million in SEERA funding for the project and lambasted Lib Dems for their 'negativity'. He said: "I'm disappointed that you haven't rejoiced in this funding. Can you not give some congratulations?" Every home in the borough was invited to comment on the authority's original seven-point plan and 2,000 responses were received. Of these, 72 per cent backed a park-and-ride at Windsor Racecourse and 62 per cent backed the plans for Centrica.

Cllr Rayner refuted claims the consultation was inaccurate and inadequate, pointing out that every household had been sent a document and they couldn't 'force people at gunpoint' to respond. Residents' feedback led to councillors scrapping plans to build a multi-storey car park at Alexandra Gardens and encouraging businesses to share their parking paces in evenings and weekends.

A working group has now been set up, charged with seeing the Windsor Parking Strategy through to completion within the next two years. The council plans to start work at King Edward VII Hospital and Centrica within the next few months.

(Lib Dem note - The Liberal Democrats M4 Park & Ride Survey conducted in Castle Without, Clewer East, Clewer South and Datchet had just over 1000 respondents - with overwhelming support for the M4 Park & Ride. The Lib Dems do not agree however with the M4 Park & Ride Scheme brought to the Council Cabinet by the Conservatives in November 2007 - instead they called at the Nov 07 Cabinet for alternative proposals for an M4 Park & Ride to be brought forward)