Parking – ‘again’.

Sometimes the Eye covers topics on its Facebook page that aren’t mentioned in its blog.  So, apologies, Facebook readers, for raising the subject of parking charges twice in quick succession.  Blog followers will probably have missed it the first time round.

Just over two months ago we reported that the council would be debating increasing the cost of parking in the town.  But that debate was postponed until a couple of weeks ago, when the increases were agreed, with the proviso that “subsidised annual permits of £150 per annum be made available for Camberley Town Centre workers earning the living wage or below”.  (You can find our report of two months ago, and the new parking charges, HERE.)

As we’ve written on quite a few occasions, we don’t think that Camberley’s parking charges are out of line with other towns that we know.  Yes, some people respond that it’s ‘value for money’ that matters, but that’s another story.  However, we’re fully aware that charges are more than mere money – people object strongly, and act accordingly, if they think they’re being over-charged even by small amounts.  So, we’ve argued for years that NO-ONE, including the council, knows what the consequences would be of raising or lowering parking charges.  In view of which, a sensible approach would be to carry out a trial.  But the council seems impervious to any suggestion that it’s not omniscient.

Anyway, by sheer chance we came across this letter in The Times on Saturday.  It’s about Witney, a town which we happen to know quite well, and which we’ve heard described as ‘increasingly classy’.  You’ll see that the letter makes a strong argument for free parking.  Has our council – which wants Camberley to be a ‘classy’ town – acted too hastily?

In our recent Facebook item we ‘SHARED’ a link to a simple (simplistic??) on-line survey about parking charges in the town.  We’ve no idea who created the survey, but it contains just one question.  You can find it HERE.

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A new occupant at the top of the High Street

Our two photos tell the story.  ‘Living in Vogue’ kitchen and bedroom showroom is moving into the former MySha Beauty Room.  The new business hopes to open there at the end of October.

As with all new businesses in the town, we wish them every success.

Bluebell Ballet School – the penny drops (we think!)

Earlier this year we reported that the council had granted planning permission for a change of use for the former Bossy Boots shop in Park Street.   The council was told, and presumably accepted, that potential retailer tenants had shown no interest in the premises, and that a different use was needed.  As a result, the shop would become the future home of the Bluebell Ballet School.

Anyway, for a while we’ve watched the shop being fitted out for its new role, and have been wondering when it would be occupied fully.  As you can see from our photo, there is still evidence of its former occupant at the top of the windows.  However, there’s been no sign of any activity when we’ve passed by.  But we’ve just looked at the timetable on the door, and realised what should have been obvious to us – a ballet school is rarely open at the times when we’re in town.  So, we’ll have to check today – Saturday – to see if the lights are on!

Christmas is coming!

Although the windows of this ’empty’ shop in Obelisk Way are almost completely blacked out, there’s enough of a gap to peer in and see that there’s Christmas ware on the shelves.  So we guess that it’s a ‘Christmas shop’!  Every year we wonder whether it’s possible to come up with any new ideas for decorations – surely they’ve all been done already?  And every year something appears that we’ve not seen before.  What will it be this time?

Maybe the Eye is looking to the future

Sadly, we generally have to turn down requests to publicise good causes.  We’d be swamped by them – and so would our readers.  But we made an exception recently, and here’s another.

Jack Guthrie, a seventy-seven year old long distance runner, is competing in the Windsor Half Marathon on 30th September to help raise funds for Surrey Heath Age Concern (SHAC).   He has an on-line donation page – https://mydonate.bt.com/events/jackgutherie/474644

As we all know, loneliness is a killer – literally – as well as being a miserable experience.  So do donate.  Thank you.

An exciting future. But what about the present?

The borough council promises us that the future of Camberley is bright.  A recent quote: “Led by a forward-thinking management team and elected members, Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) has invested £140 million into Camberley to drive regeneration and economic growth. “

Sorry, SHBC, but the rest of us live in the present.  Which contains clear signs of neglect.  This sign, for example, in Princess Way, is one which we’ve mentioned before, but which is now even more out-of-date.  Firstly, it’s showing totally the wrong direction for the museum.  There’s no excuse; some weeks ago the Chief Executive was reported in the national press as saying proudly that the council had moved the museum into an empty shop, so the council can’t claim that it doesn’t know about the new location. (Some would argue that the press statement was a gross distortion of what actually happened, but that’s another story).  Then, the theatre hasn’t been called the Civic Hall for more years than we care to remember, and, finally, British Rail was privatised and its name passed into history in the mid 1990s.  (Maybe the council is waiting for the railways to be re-nationalised and the name recovered from the dustbin of history?  That would, perhaps, fit with SHBC’s “forward-thinking”.)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

No, the title of this post doesn’t refer to the challenge of getting useful answers out of the borough council.  Instead, it refers to the decidedly-empty former Bensons for Beds shop in Camberley High Street.

You may remember that in August last year a planning application was submitted to develop the Bensons for Beds site.  The proposed modifications (largely a new building behind the shop) are shown in our first picture.

We thought the proposal was uninspired, and had no quarrel with the council when it turned the plans down.

However, we became aware subsequently that apparently all was not well between the council and the building’s agent.  Earlier this year, under the heading: “The council that cannot say ‘no’ – or ‘yes'”, we reported that we had asked the council for permission to reproduce some of the correspondence on the matter.  Sadly, we still hadn’t received an answer a month later.  So we wrote:  “the Bensons for Beds agent has our sympathy; dealing with the council can be VERY frustrating.”

Anyway, a new application has now been submitted, for the: “Erection of a two storey building with accommodation in the roof to form 9 residential flats (1 x 3 bedroom, 2 x 2 bedroom and 6 x 1 bedroom flats), at first and second floor, and ground floor retail unit (class A1) with ground floor roof level amenity space, parking, bin and cycle stores.”  The redeveloped building would look as shown in our final two pictures of its frontage and side.

We reckon that the latest concept is considerably more acceptable than its predecessor.