I went to the Wantage and Grove Traffic Advisory meeting recently where members of the County, District, Town and parish councils get together.
The main issue raised by members of the public was parking in Wantage Town Centre.
As you know, Church Street and Priory Road are one way so the only way to get to your home if you live in Church Street, Priory Road or the Cloisters is by driving along Church Street.
At the moment, building developments are taking place at the new retirement flats, the homes at the Woolpack and King Alfred’s School. Construction lorries and contractors’ vehicles are taking up a large number of spaces in the Beacon car park and are parking along Church Street.
One individual mentioned that he had had to wait nearly 30 minutes for access to his own home. The feedback from the Councillors and police representatives at the meeting was sympathetic but that there was little that they could do.
Let’s look at the facts.
1. The police are currently responsible for parking enforcement but freely admit that this is not a priority.
2. The County Council are the Highways Authority and do not raise any objections to new developments in the town centre with little if any parking spaces.
3. The County can delegate authority for parking enforcement to District Councils (it has done this to Oxford City Council and West Oxfordshire) but South and Vale don’t want to pay the cost.
4. Church Street, Newbury Street, Mill Street and Wallingford Street are main routes through Wantage which suffer from a large number of cars parked illegally.
5. The Wantage Chamber of Commerce had been quoted in the Herald recently as saying "Several of the main streets leading to the Market Place are being clogged by illegally parked cars making the town unattractive to visitors and shoppers and making life difficult for those of us who work in the town.”
"A number of our members are reporting a direct impact on their businesses which is leading some to consider a move out of the town.”
6. Other streets (like Harcourt Road, Ham Road and Garston Lane) also suffer from on-street parking which makes driving hazardous when you can’t see past the line of parked cars.
But nothing happens. As a member of the public said to the Councillors at the Traffic Advisory meeting, “You were elected to do something, this isn’t good enough!”