07:48PM, Friday 05 February 2021
The council made the decision to ‘back down’ on parking charges in rural car parks in a budget meeting last Thursday – following a negative response from residents.
When the Royal Borough put the idea out for public consultation, it received ‘very strong pushback’ from residents and ‘flurries of emails’.
Councillor Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill) said that he had ‘profound and deep concerns’ about the proposal and that it made him ‘deeply uneasy’.
He said that during COVID-19 particularly, it was important to consider physical and mental health and the impact these charges could have on the people from low-income backgrounds and their ability to access outdoor public spaces for taking daily exercise.
Cllr Samantha Rayner (Con, Eton and Castle) was concerned about the effect on volunteers involved in litter picks and clearing of the waterways.
“Free parking really enables that, and I’m really worried that removing it will inhibit people and maybe stop these activities,” she said.
Cllr Gerry Clark (Con, Bisham and Cookham) expressed concern about a ‘one size fits all’ approach to parking charges in rural car parks, describing it as ‘a blunt instrument’.
The cabinet agreed that it would not take forward the suggestion to charge for rural car parks this year and could instead use one-off COVID reserve money to fund the saving.
Leader of the Lib Dems Cllr Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) congratulated the lead member for finance, Cllr David Hilton (Con, Ascot & Sunninghill), for ‘backing down’.
However, tempers began to flare when he described the budget as ‘a catalogue of disasters’.
His comments were poorly received by several members of the cabinet who accused him of making a ‘party political broadcast’ rather than contributing anything to the discussion.
At this point the meeting unravelled into a row between councillors that got out of hand, forcing the monitoring officer to step in.
Top Ten Articles
NHS data shows 187 people were being cared for at the trust’s three hospitals – Wexham Park, Heatherwood and Frimley Park – as of Tuesday, February 23.