Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Hospital And University Need To Be Better Neighbours

RBH & Uni: Putting Pressure On Our Streets
The extended public consultation on parking and traffic issues in Redlands closes at the end of this week, following which consideration will be given to drafting up any firm proposals which command a public mandate. However, what is already clear - and has been for some time - is that the streets around "old Redlands" struggle to cope with the pressures of having two of Reading's three largest employers as our neighbours.

There is no doubt that the Royal Berkshire Hospital and the University of Reading are good for the local economies of Redlands and Reading as a whole - I'm sure local councillors would be to the fore of any campaign if ever there was any suggestion of either of these fine institutions relocating.

That being said, we must expect more of the RBH and the UoR in the way they address the issues arising from being large employers and running organisations which attract a large number of daily visitors.

It is simply not good enough to expand in the way that both have done in recent years and expect that that the Victorian streets in Redlands can soak up ever-increasing numbers of cars roaming around seeking a parking space.

Both the hospital and the university have capacity to build new car parks (at Addington Road and on the Whiteknights campus respectively) yet nothing is planned. If they argue that limited resources would mean detracting from clinical or academic needs, then form a partnership with a third party to build and run such facilities.

But building car parks can only be part of their response. The university should also be encouraged (or challenged!) to take more seriously it's responsibilities for those students who live in rented houses in our streets, while the hospital could engage in a better dialogue regarding providing a workable park and ride scheme (and not a repeat of the "ghost buses" they ran a few years ago).

We need co-operation and commitment from our big neighbours now, or else the council will be forced to defend the interests of local residents in a more resilient way than ever before.

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