Free Parking in Wokingham To Be Discussed
Free Parking in Wokingham
With the transformation of Wokingham Market Place well underway, the borough council is set to bring in free parking in Wokingham town centre car parks, if approved by the Executive this month (26 October).
If agreed, free parking would be available from 3pm to 8am until the end of January.
Free Parking Package
The ‘Free after Three’ parking would be part of a package of support to help shops and other businesses during this difficult construction period in Wokingham town centre. The proposed package includes:
- ‘Free After Three’ parking in the borough council’s town centre car parks* from 3pm to 8am the next day, during the important pre-Christmas and New Year sales period
- Regular morning surgeries for shops and businesses to ensure they are kept informed of work and can discuss issues. These will complement regular visits to individual shops already being made by contractors and the town council
- Online videos funded by the Borough Council, Wokingham Town Council and Wokingham Business Association to promote businesses and the town
- A stakeholder workshop on Wednesday October 25 to generate further initiatives with Wokingham town centre shops and businesses
Borough council leader, Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, and other councillors have been out and about to talk to shopkeepers about disruption being caused by the Market Place Improvement Project. While shops can see the benefits that are coming and are excited about the future, their concerns are about the present.
Cllr Haitham Taylor said: “The vision for the town centre is incredible and millions of pounds are being invested in it. But we know this means little to businesses struggling right now.
“My conversations with traders have given us some thoughts about how we can help. Firstly, there have been calls for free parking, and we plan to act on that immediately with our ‘Free After Three’ initiative.
“We’re also improving the flow of information to shops and businesses because, although there’s been a lot of communication offered, some messages are still not getting through. Contractors and town council staff have been repeatedly visiting business but we want to formalise this with regular, well-publicised surgeries.”
Shops & Businesses
In addition to these measures, Wokingham Borough and Wokingham Town Councils are keen to talk to shops and businesses about how they can work together to increase footfall in the short term, and market the town in the longer-term. This will be the focus of the workshop on October 25, to which all town centre businesses are being invited.
Executive member for economic development, Cllr Stuart Munro, said: “We know people’s time is precious, but we would urge those with a stake in the future of the town to come to this meeting where we’ll be listening to everybody’s views. We and the town council will bring some ideas, but this must be business led, because the shops and traders know their own customers.
“One key message we must all reiterate is that Wokingham is open for business. Yes there are issues, but it won’t help shops and businesses if we talk down the town while the regeneration is ongoing.”
The improvement project will transform Market Place into an attractive continental-style space with café tables, market stalls, attractive trees and stylish paving designed for all. The £3.8million joint borough and town council project is replacing the poor quality, root damaged paving, cluttered street scene and inconvenient bus lane, with a smart new look that is pedestrian-friendly and perfect to support a flourishing market, successful shops and bustling outdoor living.
The work is part of the long-term vision to safeguard the future of the town through investment and regeneration which will allow it to flourish and to bring in income for the borough as a whole.