02:03PM, Friday 13 May 2022
Tara Sutthoff recently had her bike poached from the racks
A Royal Borough councillor has called Maidenhead Railway Station the current 'bike theft capital of Europe'.
Speaking at a Maidenhead Town Forum meeting several councillors voiced their concerns and discussed possible measures that could be taken to tackle bike thefts at the station.
Discussing the issue with representatives from Great Western Railway (GWR) and Network Rail, Cllr Greg Jones (Con, Riverside), said: “I know one suggestion was to bring the bicycle storage closer to the ticket office as it used to be, which would mean that the bikes aren’t sort of left alone down there almost.
“Perhaps that’s something that could be looked at as well.”
Edward Goose, GWR’s regional growth manager, said that he thought this it was a ‘very good and valid point’.
He added: “The current cycle racks are outside of railway land, and I think it’s a fantastic scheme that RBWM took forward to provide that much bicycle parking but its clearly a challenge with theft.
Mr Goose suggested that working alongside Network Rail the idea could be picked up and taken forward.
Cllr Gurch Singh (Lib Dem, St Mary’s) also raised concerns over the issue and said: “This had been mentioned by a number of my residents.
“I mean at the moment Maidenhead Railway Station is the bike theft capital of Europe.”
He added: “Bikes are being pinched on an hourly, daily, minute-by-minute basis and we have an issue there where residents are not even reporting these thefts to the police anymore because they are fed up with it.
“What’s being done about that? It’s been going on for over a year now.”
Cllr Singh asked if ‘some real action’ could be taken over this issue, suggesting maybe a cage or ‘some sort of security system’ could be implemented.
He added that when the bike storage was outside WHSmiths, which is located closer to the station entrance, it worked ‘very very well’.
“They were in sight, and they were visible,” Cllr Singh explained.
In response Mr Goose said that the railway is ‘happy to support’ where it can in terms of looking at that, however, the current bike stands are outside of railway land and are on RBWM land, so their ‘powers and ability to deal with that is very limited’.
Mr Goose added: “We want people to cycle to Maidenhead station where possible, clearly because it’s a sustainable mode and it’s one of [the] Government’s main priorities, is getting as many people as possible to cycle to railway stations.
“They’ve set up a whole Active Travel England organisation. One of its main agendas is to look at that so clearly that’s important for us. More than happy to look at cycling to stations.”
Later in the meeting, Jeff Pick of Thames Valley Police provided the crime statistics for Maidenhead for the last 31 days and stated that eight offences had been recorded of bike theft from roads.
He added bikes stolen from garages and sheds were not included in these figures.
Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s), said: “I’m really relieved that we don’t have one bike being stolen every minute, but I am obviously concerned about the thefts that we do have at the station approach.”
She asked Mr Pick what could be done to tackle the problem.
As well as other work that is being done, Mr Pick said: “We are promoting tracker systems on bikes.
“They go either in the saddle, the handle. You can even buy one that goes in the red light on the back.”
He added: “We’re hoping that if we can persuade people to put trackers on these bikes, they are not that expensive, we could find out where they go.”
Cllr Stimson added that maybe the climate partnership ‘could fund something like that’.
“Because we try to be a more sustainable town and well borough, because its applicable everywhere, and then this happens and it’s just it breaks people’s hearts,” she said.
An independent report into a Conservative councillor has found a breach of the Royal Borough’s code of conduct in a document seen by the Advertiser.