Monday, 23 July 2018

Deck could be solution to parking shortage

A CAR park in Henley could be doubled in size by adding a deck

A CAR park in Henley could be doubled in size by adding a deck.

South Oxfordshire District Council, which owns the facility off King’s Road, has proposed adding a single layer of decking at the car park, which currently has about 340 short-stay pay and display spaces.

It has set aside £770,000 towards the project in its 2016/17 capital growth budget.

The council says this would help create the extra parking that was identified as a need in the draft of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

However, the town council has expressed concern at the idea.

Speaking at a meeting of the finance strategy and management committee, Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “It is good to see the district council recognises that there are issues with parking and traffic in Henley.

“However, this should not be tackled unilaterally and I’d be worried if they went ahead by themselves.

“This should be dealt with by all concerned under a coherent transport strategy. Many people think decking that car park will solve all our problems but it won’t tackle congestion.

“It may actually attract more traffic if parking becomes easier.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said that £770,000 seemed “a very small amount”, adding: “If it goes ahead it mustn’t just be a steel and concrete structure in the middle of Henley.”

After the meeting, Councillor David Nimmo Smith, a town, district and county councillor, said: “At this stage we don’t know whether decking King’s Road car park will be part of the solution or whether it would make life worse.

“There would certainly only be scope for one deck. Even that would be visible to the residents of King’s Road but any more would be too obtrusive.”

Meanwhile, three car parks in Henley could be taken over by the town council.

It is to ask the district council, which owns the facilities off King’s Road, Greys Road and Goodall Close, whether it is willing to hand down responsibility for running them.

Councillors believe it might be a good source of income and want to discuss the pros and cons with district council officers.

The town council already owns and manages the car parks at Mill Meadows and Mill Lane as well as the one at Dry Leas, which is leased by Henley Rugby Club.

It doesn’t want to buy the car parks but could earn revenue by taking charge of issuing tickets and fines.

However, it would then also be responsible for maintaining the public toilets in the King’s Road and Greys Road car parks.

Town clerk Mike Kennedy said the car parks generated a “considerable income” and recommended having an “amicable dialogue” with the district council since the two councils were both controlled by the Conservatives.

Will Hamilton, the committee chairman, said: “We already have parking attendants here so they’d be able to operate it. We need to understand how that would work logistically.”

Several councillors said that currently the income from the three car parks was pooled with the revenue from the other car parks across the district and then redistributed but taking on responsibility for them would keep the money in Henley.

Deputy Mayor Julian Brookes said: “We need to know what the quid pro quo might be. The district council isn’t just going to hand them over — they would want something in return before they entertained the notion.”

Cllr Reissmann said: “What are the problems we’re trying to solve here? Is it badly run or could it be better run for the people of Henley? We seem to be wanting to take over more services for the sake of it.

“We need to ask ourselves what would actually improve for residents if we went ahead with this.”

Councillor Brookes said: “If we were in full control of those assets we could determine how we move them forward in terms of our transport strategy. We could move through roads to where we wanted them, for example.”

• South Oxfordshire District Council has set aside £120,000 to refurbish the toilets at the Greys Road car park.

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