Tilehurst's councillors slam Labour for scrapping free 30 mins parking without a vote

11 Apr 2024

Tilehurst's councillors slam Labour for scrapping free 30 mins parking without consultation or a vote

Tilehurst's councillors have voiced their outrage after the Labour portfolio holder for transport on Reading Borough Council unilaterally scrapped the free 30 minute weekday parking window at the Dunstall Close and Recreation Road car parks - without any vote or even a consultation with councillors.

The decision is all the more puzzling as councillors were told in December that Council income from car parking is continuing to rise and is now almost back (p.10) to pre-Covid levels.  There is no mention of increased car-parking charges in the budget documents for 2024-2025 either - the only reference to car parking is to the concession rate at the Mereoak Park & Ride Site (Appendix 9).

Council officers have now confirmed in writing to the Reading Lib Dems that the decision was taken solely by Labour's transport portfolio holder - and that no Tilehurst councillors were even consulted before the change.  Tilehurst's councillors have launched a petition to reverse the move.

Reacting, Tilehurst councillor Meri O'Connell, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats on Reading Borough Council, said: "Labour have reached a new low with this one.  The free half-hour window was a hard-fought win for the Lib Dems back when I first started out on the council twelve years ago.  Since then, local businesses have told us it's been a lifeline that's helped keep the village centre thriving.  This latest change comes just as footfall is picking up again after the double whammy of Covid-19 and the closure of all Tilehurst’s banks and building societies.  It’s a hammer blow to local businesses and our community as a whole.

"For this to be done without any vote or even the courtesy of discussing with local councillors, is an absolute disgrace.  I assume they knew we'd oppose it, which is why they snuck it in behind closed doors.  We're glad to see the free half hour is still there on weekends, but this awful decision needs to be reversed and the discussion needs to be had.

"Tilehurst residents deserve better than this, and frankly, we know Labour can do better.  We've been fighting for a fair deal for Tilehurst for many a long year now - and we've won on this before.  Labour clearly think there's a case for this change: they should have the courage of their convictions and put it to residents and councillors, rather than hiding behind bureaucracy.  I hope everyone affected by this change signs our petition to overturn it."

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