I think everyone who is familiar with Winnersh knows that the Loddon Bridge park and ride floods. Frequently. As it is right next to the River Loddon, it is not really very surprising that it is prone to flooding. It often has to be shut because water levels are rising, even though it does not flood every time there is a flood warning. Clearly this is unsatisfactory for users. Though not as unsatisfactory as having to write off your car because it is submerged under water, which happened to several dozen cars in the Loddon Bridge park and ride a few years ago, and is the reason why the council is so cautious now about closing the car park when there is a chance of the Loddon flooding.
The council is now proposing to move the park and ride to the other side of the road, to a site next to the existing Winnersh Triangle station car park. In fact, the existing car park will be incorporated into the new park and ride. This land is much less likely to flood – all the access roads would be under water first. The money is coming from a government grant for sustainable transport. All in all, it should be a more reliable service.
This seems like a good thing, although I do have a couple of concerns.
There will be fewer parking spaces in total. If the new, more reliable, park and ride, turns out to be more successful, fewer spaces may be a problem in the long run, although at the moment neither the station car park nor the existing park and ride are at anything like capacity.
The second concern is over the charging mechanism. There are a few complicating factors, due to the railway station. There is currently a charge for the station car park, and rail users can get refunds (if the ticket office is open). But the current park and ride car park is free, with all the charge going on the bus fare. Also, lots of people park for free in nearby residential roads, to dodge the station car park charges. And of course, car park users will have the choice of rail or bus. The fares are different, the timetables are different, and the fare income goes to different bodies. All in all, a complicated task to work out how to charge for the park and ride.
And my final concern is about the residents in those surrounding roads who currently suffer from commuter parking. There is a risk that the park and ride could make their situation even worse. Measures to stop inappropriate parking need to be brought in. Rachelle (the other Lib Dem councillor) and I have been looking at this for some time, as has the Neighbourhood Action Group. Tomorrow night I will be going out with a local resident to get signatures on a petition asking the council to look at introducing parking restrictions. And I wll be suggesting such restrictions are considered as part of the process of moving the park and ride.
You can see the planning application for the park and ride by looking up F/2013/0889 at
http://tinyurl.com/WBCwebsite The deadline for comments is 26th June.