Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Visitors will not be charged to use meadows car park

Visitors will not be charged to use meadows car park

PLANS to introduce charges at the Mill Lane car park in Henley have been rejected.

The town council, which is responsible for the car park, decided against the idea on the casting vote of the Mayor.

Deputy Mayor Ken Arlett wanted to charge visitors to use the car park and allow residents to use it for nothing by displaying a sticker in their car window.

Speaking at last week’s council meeting, he said: “To let people park there for nothing when they don’t spend a penny, make a mess and walk away is not acceptable.”

The free car park, which has 55 spaces, is used by people visiting Mill and Marsh Meadows and by players and officials of Henley Town Football Club on match days.

In April the area was left looking like a tip after a busy weekend.

There were reports of residents remonstrating with visitors in the car park, which was overflowing.

Cars were parked on one side along the entire length of the road as well as on double yellow lines, which caused congestion.

Residents were horrified to find piles of bin bags full of rubbish and litter all over the grass and some complained about the bushes and nearby gardens having been used as a toilet.

The council was considering introducing a £3 a day charge, which could potentially generate about £25,000 a year in revenue for the council, which could help fund toilets in the area. But in July the council’s recreation and amenities committee heard that charging for parking could lead to drivers parking in Mill Lane, which is narrow.

Councillor David Eggleton, who seconded the motion, said that this already happened when the car park was busy and sometimes Mill Lane was gridlocked.

Councillor Sam Evans said there was no evidence that it was visitors who were the main users of the car park.

“Certainly, in my experience, the vast majority of people going in and out of there are dog walkers and swimmers,” she said. “Without any information on the usage I think it’s a massive, unnecessary expenditure to put in car parking machines. Who’s going to police it?”

Councillor Jane Smewing, who chairs the council’s finance committee, agreed, saying the cost of enforcement was prohibitive.

Cllr Arlett accused them of knowing nothing about any costs, adding: “My view is let’s charge them, let’s get some money in — a couple of meters down there are not going to cost you the world.

“It makes absolutely common sense to stop people parking there while paying absolutely nothing and leaving their trash behind.”

The vote to investigate charging non-residents was tied six-all but Mayor Glen Lambert used his vote to defeat the motion.

He said: “Every instinct tells me this would be a waste of money and it would be disruptive.”

The car park is one of two in Henley which is free. The other is in King James Way.

The idea of introducing a charge was also rejected by the council in 2015.

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