Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Parking overhaul plan on hold after dividing residents

PLANS to overhaul parking in Whitchurch have stalled after residents were divided on the issue.

The village’s traffic and pavements advisory group has proposed consolidating parking in High Street into five separate blocks with a total of 24 spaces and banning parking outside of these.

There are currently no yellow lines on the street, only white ones advising people not to block driveways.

The traffic group, which sought advice from an independent expert, says most people backed the idea at a consultation meeting at the village hall in February.

However, a different picture emerged at a second meeting held virtually last week after a group of residents got together to oppose the £21,260 scheme.

Opponents said the problem of parking would be pushed on to neighbouring streets without any yellow lines.

Some said the plan should be put on hold until a parking permit scheme could be introduced to prevent outsiders, including commuters from Pangbourne, from using the new bays. However, the meeting heard this couldn’t happen until South Oxfordshire District Council took over responsibility for parking enforcement from Thames Valley Police, which is finally expected to happen after many years of delays.

The district council could then deploy enforcement officers to monitor permit bays.

In the meantime, the blocks of parked cars could create a “chicane” effect to prevent double parking and reduce the speed of passing traffic. Opponents claimed reducing congestion would actually make traffic speed up, creating a hazard for children walking to the primary school in Eastfield Lane.

Jim Donahue, who chairs the parish council, which oversees the traffic group, said: “The council will consider all feedback received and see what changes may be needed.

“Any proposal would have to go to the county council for public consultation so we want to come up with something which we know is likely to succeed.”

Parking and pedestrian safety were among the biggest issues raised in a 2019 survey of villagers.

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