Richard Willis's Blog

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Car Park Charge Increases and Clayfield Copse Park and Ride Proposals

On Monday night I attended a meeting of the new majority Labour administration Cabinet. Opposition Councillors do not sit on the Cabinet (there are 9 Labour Councillors) but with prior notice we are allowed to speak. I had given notice that I wished to speak on several items. One of them related to increases in car parking charges in the car parks owned by the Council but managed by NCP. The Labour administration proposed to remove the £1 Sunday and Bank Holiday rate at the Hills Meadow and Kings Meadow car parks and charge the normal rates which will be up to £7. They are also scrapping the Sunday and Bank Holiday rate at the Cattle Market and the free parking on Saturdays between 1pm and 6pm at Hills Meadow.

However, the proposal which most surprised me, and which seemed to have been shoe-horned into the report, was the plan for “micro park and ride” schemes at Palmer Park and Clayfield Copse. The report suggested that NCP would be tasked to set up pay and display machines in the car parks, with an initial 2 hours free but a charge of £4 over 2 hours (Mon to Sat) which would also act as a bus ticket for the existing bus services which pass by both sites.

As a ward Councillor for Peppard ward, in which Clayfield Copse sits, I am very aware of the many local groups and individual residents who use the car park, as well as the poor state of the car park there. I raised concerns to Cabinet that the car park was pot-holed and not fit to take the significant increase in usage which a park and ride scheme would entail. The car park needs immediate repair and longer term a proper metalled surface laid. Also some existing users of the car park would be likely to stay longer than 2 hours and would resent a £4 charge. There is a thriving group of football teams who meet there, a tennis club, and very many local people who walk their dogs and enjoy the neighbouring copse and playing fields.

Clayfield Copse Car Park today

Clayfield Copse Car Park today

I also noted that whilst the report specifically stated the charging regime for Palmer Park, it had omitted to detail Clayfield Copse! This clearly unsettled Cllr Tony Page, the Labour Lead Councillor, who had failed to spot this omission when he was sent the draft report, and he began flicking through the pages of the report and muttering to the Leader of the Council. I asked that the matter be deferred and consultation be undertaken with the ward Councillors before any proposal was decided. In response to my speech Cllr Page acknowledged the omission and the need for work to improve the state of the car park. He also agreed to discuss my concerns with Council officers and consult with the ward Councillors.

Since the Cabinet meeting I have had the opportunity to consult with many users of the Clayfield Copse car park and it is clear that there is significant concern at what is proposed. Many people have emailed me and I have already met with reprentatives of Caversham Tennis Club and Caversham AFC who often have to use the car park for much longer than 2 hours if they are having a tournament. Today I visited the car park which was full to overflowing, with cars parked outside on the grassed verge and in nearby residential streets. There may be capacity at certain times but not at the times when a park and ride would be most likely to be used, namely at weekends.

My Conservative ward colleague Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale and I will be making strong representations to the Council urging the Labour administration to think again and quickly. The micro park and ride proposal as presented on Monday evening is simply not workable.


June 16, 2012 - Posted by | Local


  1. Richard
    No doubt the heavy use of Clayfield today was down to the fact that Caverham AFC were holding their presentation day. At times the car park is full if 3 football Ames are going on and this would only increase under a park and ride. Besides would hate to see a charge to use the car park.

    Comment by Geoff Baldock | June 16, 2012 | Reply

  2. Richard,

    We don’t live in the ward but use the car park when we attend on the first Sunday of every month to do voluntary work, Friends of Clayfield Copse. This involves picking-up litter, clearing overgrown areas and paths, coppicing, clearing brambles from the improving bluebell area in all weathers. This activity takes about three hours so according to the proposal you have outlined, we would be charged to come and do volunteer work. This is not an attractive proposition. Please oppose the proposal to pay to park at Clayfield unless the Council are proposing to use that money to enhance directly the woods, grounds and facilities at Clayfield Copse!

    Comment by Tom Brabben | June 23, 2012 | Reply

    • Tom – I will add your comments to the submission I and Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale will be making. The Council’s proposal needs to be substantially amended or thrown out if it is not to severely impact many existing users.

      Comment by Richard Willis | June 23, 2012 | Reply

  3. I think this is a nonsense as it was always intended as a park for dog walkers, sports teams (football & cricket) and the tennis club. The proposal should be strongly resisted unless alternative free arrangements can be made for the residents and sportsmen using the area.

    Richard Ellison, early resident of Caversham Park

    Comment by Richard Ellison | June 24, 2012 | Reply

  4. I have to express my concern at the proposed park and ride scheme for Clayfield Copse. My house is in Mallory Avenue and backs onto Caversham Park Road directly opposite the Clayfield Copse car park. We already experience the overflowing car park on occasions when multiple events are held on the fields. This leads to many cars being parked in the adjoining roads causing obsticals for local residents both vehicular and pedestrian and I can’t see that situation being decreased by the implementation of this scheme.
    Friends and family who join in events held at the copse will now be charged, not to mention its close proximity to two local primary schools and the no 23 bus stop on the other side of the road. By what stretch of the imagination is this scheme a good idea other than it will save someone money somewhere?! (and that won’t be local residents!)

    Comment by Katy | June 24, 2012 | Reply

    • Katy – I completely agree. This is a Labour proposal which was snuck into Cabinet papers on 11 June with no consultation with anyone. I raised objections and as a result we have a short period of consultation with the ward Councillors, which is why I and my colleague Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale are seeking the views of local residents and car park users. We will be making a submission to the Council highlighting the many objections we have received. I will include your comments with this.

      Comment by Richard Willis | June 24, 2012 | Reply

      • Thanks Richard. It’s not difficult to find park and ride guidelines on the Internet – I found some very interesting documents in under 5 mins which advise that suitable locations should be:

        Away from residential areas – avoid disturbance to residents and abstraction of passengers from local buses.

        A statement obviously NOT taken into consideration with regard to this proposal. As the general public have not been privvy to this report that was pushed through without our knowledge I have some very specific questions:

        Will they change the adjacent roads to permit parking to ‘protect’ the locals access to their own homes?

        Will they change the no 23 bus route which serves the local primary schools (again)?

        Which route will the new park and ride buses take as the local buses already experience a great deal of congestion at peak times?

        How will they address the noise pollution caused by additional cars and buses? (My husband works from home and I’m sure he would love to hear buses rumbling past every 5 mins! Are we supposed to keep our windows shut all summer so that people returning later in the evening do not wake up my four year old son?

        How will they protect the copse environment from the dramatic increase in carbon emissions?

        Will they compensate us for the decrease in value to our house as if we ever want to move (which we might if this goes through) the only people interested in buying will be bus spotters!

        Caversham Park Village was built to have a community feel, hence the many walkways and open gardens. This scheme goes completely against that and all that is good about the area in which we live.

        Comment by Katy | June 24, 2012

  5. We live, over looking the copse and are strongly against any changes which would increase traffic on an already busy road.

    Comment by mandy reilly | June 24, 2012 | Reply

  6. The Clayfield copse car park is well used for tennis players,footballers and walkers, particularly at the weekend. It is already not unusual for overflow carparking to start on Northbrook Road or Abingdon Drive. Just as a matter of interest what will the council do at Christmas for the tree drop off scheme? It will also mean increased traffic at the two already busy junctions – Pepard road/Kiln Road and Kiln Road caversham Park Road.

    Comment by Isabel Dominy | June 24, 2012 | Reply

  7. Further to my comment, there would appear to be some sort of notice already up about £4 charge !

    Comment by Isabel Dominy | June 24, 2012 | Reply

  8. Living opposite Clayfield copse, we would be against the increase in traffic and parking at the copse. Also the increase in use of lready full buses in peak journey time.

    Comment by Toni Smith | June 24, 2012 | Reply

  9. Good Morning Richard,
    I was sent the link to your blog by our local neighbourhood watch representative and I am extremely concerned at the proposal for a park & ride scheme at Clayfield Copse. It would not be just the cost implications to regular users but would increase parking in local side roads. The majority of roads in CPV are already choc a bloc and are simply not designed to take the extra cars. Please continue to fight this proposal on our behalf and let us local residents know what else we can be doing to ensure this ridiculous scheme is not allowed to go ahead.

    Comment by Joanna Davey | June 25, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi Joanna – Thank you! Yes I certainly will be continuing to fight this proposal.

      Comment by Richard Willis | June 26, 2012 | Reply

  10. This proposal is unworkable and would prevent use by the Tennis club and Caversham AFC & Caversham Park FC teams, who use the facility nearly every Saturday & Sunday from August through to June. On match days the Car Park is full already as at least 8 Cavesham AFC teams use the site.

    I think that these plans should be shelved and an alternative site proposed.

    Comment by Peter Phillips | June 25, 2012 | Reply

  11. We also live overlooking Clayfield Copse, and over the past few years have seen a huge increase in the amount of traffic along Caversham Park Road. When we moved here there were only 2 buses per hour, and these stopped in the evening. There was also no bus service on a Sunday and during the week the majority of buses were low riders. We now have a huge bus stop outside our back gate where local youths congregate to catch the night bus, so we are quite used to being woken up by them and completely sympathise with Katie’s comment about them waking her 4 year old.. It is now impossible to sit in our back garden without being overlooked by someone on the bus every 15 minutes. We are also quite used to our back garden being used as a rubbish bin by those at the bus stop who think it is acceptable to throw their rubbish over the fence.
    There has already been a serious accident opposite the car park entrance as local children actively use the Copse for sport and leisure, and there are always children going in and out on their bkes, scooters, and skateboards to use the skate par. Increased traffic can only increase the risk of accident. There is also a concern that with more cars static for a long periods each day this will attract higher rates of crime such as vehicle theft and vandalism. Presumably there would be additional lighting in the car park which would adversely affect the local bat population.
    Clayfield Copse is an enormously benefical resource to the local community and is widely used by them. Local groups also contribute widely to the upkeep of the Copse. We cannot understand why the Council seem to wish to take this resource away from us. The proposed Park and Ride scheme does not benefit local residents in any way.
    My other concern is that this is the thin end of the wedge; what happens when the Council decide that the scheme needs expanding? Do we then lose part of the meadow or the Copse?

    Comment by Heather | June 25, 2012 | Reply

    • Heather – I agree with your concerns and am working hard to consult with local people about the implications of this proposal for them. I will ensure that your comments are included in the submission that I and my Conservative colleague Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale will be making to the Council.

      Comment by Richard Willis | June 26, 2012 | Reply

  12. Approaching this from another viewpoint, why would anyone park and ride from here anyway? Proper parknrides like Loddon Bridge have frequent buses that run non-stop(ish) direct to the town centre via bus lanes; from here I could wait up to 15min then get a stop-start tour of Cav Park and the Henley Road (or have to walk to the Peppard Road stop). I just don’t think this obscure scheme would attract much business.

    Comment by SD | June 25, 2012 | Reply

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