Free parking – but only if you skate

We’ve previously mentioned the borough council’s proposal to operate a skating rink and market on the London Road Recreation Ground this Christmas.  One of the major issues to resolve is, of course, parking.  Not least, there isn’t any!  Well, nothing suitable in the recreation ground, anyway.  And there’s virtually no on-street parking locally either.

So, to encourage skaters – and others visiting the market – to use the council’s town centre car parks, these will be free to those concerned.  Some whizzy technology will be employed.  The idea is that when skaters arrive, they will give their car number plate to an attendant, who will enter the details into an iPad.  By the miracles of science (well, via an internet link, we imagine) the car park computer will be programmed to allow the car concerned to leave the car park ‘for free’.

At least, that’s the idea.  But what about the implementation?  First question – how long can a skater park without charge?  Since the hope is that skaters will spend some time (and money) in the town, as well as skate, they’ll be encouraged to stay for several hours.  Several hours of free parking?  At Christmas?  Or, if they only park for the hour or so that it takes to skate, should they qualify for free parking when serious shoppers, who are probably spending far more in the town than the price of a skating ticket, have to pay?  And can the town centre car parks cope with any extra demand?

All of which is a preamble to our long-standing gripe.  In spite of the pressure on parking at Christmas time, the council really doesn’t do everything possible to speed the flow of traffic into Main Square car park.  As you may know, it’s possible to log into the council’s website and find out how many empty spaces there are, but drivers who arrive at the entry barriers – who really need the information – are kept in the dark.  All they see is a sign saying ‘SPACE’.  Which could mean just one remaining space.  So it’s perfectly understandable that incoming drivers don’t move smartly up the car park.  They linger by any parked car whose occupants look as if they might be about to leave.  The whole place then grinds to a halt.


Unless and until the council provides drivers with more meaningful information, any claims that it’s doing its best to resolve Christmas parking and traffic problems will be hollow.  Telling drivers that there are lots of empty spaces – as, usually, there are – should help!


7 thoughts on “Free parking – but only if you skate

  1. Nobody lets down Camberley more than the morons who manage all aspects of parking in Camberley. Their mismanagement of Camberley parking has driven 1000,s of potential visitors and shoppers away, and they are clueless as to how to communicate with their customers.

    For a stranger coming to town, it can be almost impossible to find a parking space that suits their specific needs without either getting ripped off, queuing for payment, looking for space or being hood winked by changing parking regulations.

    IMHO the SHBC Parking department is the single most damaging reason why Camberley is probably the last place to visit when compared with other retail venues in the local hinterland.

    • I visit quite a few towns, Bob. Certainly there’s lots of room for improvement locally, and Camberley really has to pull the stops out if it’s going to compete with neighbouring progressive towns, but I wonder if the situation is quite as bad as you describe. (Though I’m tempted to agree with you when I use the suits in Main Square car park. They’re an awful introduction to the town.

  2. Is this a late April Fool blog by Eye ?
    Camberley retailers will be furious otherwise.

    Perhaps Free Christmas parking for all should be considered.

    • Apart from my personal bit about the ‘Space’ sign, it’s a record – to the best of my ability – of some of the discussion at last week’s public meeting. But I do wonder how town centre retailers feel about the whole idea.

  3. As a solution to the parking problem for the Ice Rink it’s an interesting idea. Up in the North East they give free travel on the Metro for theatre goers all you have to do is produce a theatre ticket. If the ice-rink could be booked and paid for in advance on the web then customers could get free parking by producing their ice rink tickets. Of course we could just have free parking in town centre car parks while the Ice Rink is in town which would help the Town Centre as well.

    Why not come to the Camberley Society meeting with Karen Whelan and other officers in the Surrey Heath Council Chambers, Knoll Road; on Wednesday 1st June at 7.15 for 7.30 pm. to pursue this and other issues. Topics for discussion include:
    . Town Centre and High Street redevelopment
    . Public Transport including the Rail Service
    . Redevelopment of the Rail Station
    . Any other new Ideas for putting Camberley on the map.

    It will be a great opportunity to discuss these and other concerns. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Attendance is free to Camberley Society members, other guests are asked to make a donation. Seating is limited so it will be available on a first come first served basis. RSVP to David Powell at: if you would like to come.

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