South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) will not support Henley Town Council’s proposal to install decking on Kings Road car park which they own. Meetings between the two Councils have taken place over the last few months and Henley Town Clerk, Sheridan Jacklin-Edward wrote to the CEO of SODC saying that there was a lack of car parking spaces in Henley and that he had concerns about air quality due to drivers circling the car parks and the town trying to find a space.
Liz Hayden, Head of Housing and Environment responded to the letter on behalf of Mark Stone, Chief Executive of South Oxfordshire District Council, which said, “In order to understand the problem we would need to commission usage surveys to show which of the car parks reach capacity and compare this with data from other towns to gauge a relative level of priority. I am exploring with colleagues how this piece of analysis could be funded.”
“The council is currently developing its corporate plan which will identify and set out their main priorities for the district and how the council will provide its services. The proposal to install decking in Kings Road car park is a major project and therefore I do not think that the council can agree to work with you to develop a business case in order to pursue this proposal at this time and would not be in a position to prioritise funding without additional information and evidence of the need being greater in Henley than elsewhere. Of course, any future proposal would also need to be in line with the Councils declared Climate Emergency.”
The Henley Herald ran a Facebook poll which asked residents whether a car park deck should be built, with 864 people voting the result was 59% Yes and 41% No. Many comments from residents said that an underground level should be built rather than an upper deck.
SODC received £648,367 and parking over stay tickets (fines) of £57,510 in 2016/2017 from Kings Road and Greys Road car parks.
Sheridan told the Herald, “We are disappointed at the District Council lack of action on the matter, especially as they had already provided us with evidence that of all their car parks in South Oxfordshire, and it is the car parks in Henley that face the greatest demand. However, we will continue to put pressure on the District Council to consider the scheme, and we look forward to bringing back a solid evidence base and business case to support our proposals.”
Many drivers are still being inconsiderate and illegal parking continues to be a serious problem in Henley too. The photo below was sent to us this week. This car was parked across an exit gate on a double yellow line in Bell Street. A distraught young woman, attempting to get to work, was unable to leave her drive. On St Marks Road, a Trinity School Mum also blocked a resident’s driveway this week.
Henley Town Council have been putting pressure on SODC to sign up to decriminalisation of car parking which would allow the Council to employ officers to issue tickets to illegally parked vehicles. Henley Mayor, Ken Arlett said, “OCC stated it would need all three District Councils, SODC, Vale of the White Horse and Cherwell to sign up to the decriminalisation the first two have but as yet no response from Cherwell, although all concerned felt they would sign up for it. There is a mountain amount of work to do on this, to devolve down to SODC, but discussions are on-going.”
“Myself and Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak have met with OCC officers separately, and they are very positive to devolve down to either SODC or Henley Town Council. Once again there is an enormous amount of work to do on this, but the lead officer has the remit to push forward. Further meetings will take place in the New Year. All three councils seem to want to push forward and I intend to put an item on the next Planning Agenda on the 17 December.”