A council insider has slammed what he calls an ‘ulterior motive’ behind proposed changes to car parks in Wokingham, Woodley, and Earley.

Notices about proposed changes to car park rules in Wokingham Borough caused mass confusion on social media over the possibility that charges could be increased in the borough’s car parks.

Although Wokingham Borough Council has said there will be no changes to parking charges, and that the measures would allow the council to tackle anti-social behaviour, an insider claimed there is an ulterior motive behind the proposals.

The insider, who is a leading councillor, has spoken to the Local Democracy Reporting Service on the condition of anonymity to voice opposition to the changes.

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They said that the proposed changes to Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) would allow the council to change parking charges without consultation.

The councillor said: “The council has said that the reason for this is to make the car parks operational 24/7 is incorrect, because our CCTV has been used, and is designed to be used to tackle anti-social behaviour.

“If this [TRO changes] goes through and is decided what that potentially means is that the council could change parking charges without consultation.

“The current process for changing car parking charges is that you have to issue a TRO which carries with it a legal requirement for consultation.

“What they want to do is change the charging rates from hourly rates to bands, and with charging bands there will be no more need for consultation. I think that impacts democracy.

“Car parking charges are basically one of the three things residents worry about, rightly or wrongly. To remove the right to comment on future changes I think is wrong.

“I’m passionate about this. At least I have done the right thing for residents because I think it is so serious.”

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The proposed changes to TROs have also been opposed publicly by councillor Shirley Boyt (Labour, Bulmershe & Whitegates), who called the changes “a scam” and “utter nonsense.”

Cllr Pauline Jorgensen (Conservative, Hillside) previously said that the council cannot act to tackle anti-social behaviour in the car parks because they are technically ‘operational’ at night – so the council does not have powers to kick people out of them.

She added making the  car parks ‘operational’ 24/7 would allow the council to take action when needed.

But Cllr Boyt has argued that  anti-social car meets barely happen  in her town of Woodley.

Cllr Boyt said: “Police could look at that CCTV, they could then make arrests. I don’t see why these changes have to be set in motion to get the police to act.

“Why does the council need a TRO change in order to enforce the law? It’s utter nonsense.

“I’ve never had anyone complain to me about anti-social behaviour in these car parks.”

Bracknell News: A notice of the proposed changes to TROs in Wokingham Borough at the Headley Road Car Park in Woodley. Credit: Councillor Shirley BoytA notice of the proposed changes to TROs in Wokingham Borough at the Headley Road Car Park in Woodley. Credit: Councillor Shirley Boyt

On Tuesday, September 28, the Conservative controlled Woodley Town Council unanimously voted to oppose the proposed TRO changes in a motion by Cllr Mark Green (Conservative, Bulmershe).

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the council to answer the claim that the TRO changes are being used to allow the council to change parking charges without consultation.

A council spokesman declined to answer the claims specifically, but reiterated that the changes would allow the car parks to be technically operational 24/7 to make sure that they are used for their intended use as a place for car parking not car meets.

The council previously stated that there would be no changes to car parking charges as part of the recent proposals.