Pushback on Reading incentive for smaller and electric cars

Reading Borough Council’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport SEPT) Committee is in charge of the town’s highways, transport and traffic managent policies.

This involves parking charging, including permits, and rules for parking as well.

At a recent meeting on Thursday, March 23, councillor David McElroy (Green, Redlands) asked whether the council’s Labour administration was willing to change parking permit rules to incentivise the use of smaller cars and electric vehicles (EVs).

Cllr McElroy said: “Many of Reading’s permit parking roads are narrow and hard to navigate with even a medium-sized car.

“Green councillors would like the council to consider updating the

permit parking rules and charges to incentivise smaller cars and more environmentally friendly electric cars in permit parking zones.

“Will the council investigate this and report back?”

READ MORE: Trial undertaken for digital parking permits 

The question was answered by Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) lead councillor for transport.

Cllr Page said: “I thank councillor McElroy for his somewhat confused question.

“There is little correlation between the size of a vehicle and ‘environmentally friendly electric cars’.

Low emission vehicles (electric or otherwise) are generally no smaller than

those that use petrol or diesel combustion engines.

“If Green councillors want a residents’ parking scheme that discriminates in favour of ‘smaller’ cars I would invite them to set out the maximum length and width of vehicle that fits their definition.”

Cllr Page also questioned whether a permit policy that would incentivise electric or hybrid cars by reducing the charges would be paid for by an increase in charges for regular cars of a council taxpayer subsidy.

He added: “I would point out that it is possible to design a policy for a parking scheme that requires vehicles to be of a certain size (or smaller).

“However, this would require considerable extra staff to manage and monitor applications as I am advised that DVLA documentation and their database do not give dimensions of a car, only the weight.”

But in the end, he did say that once cllr McElroy fleshed out a proposal the council would be willing to consider it.

Welcoming that, cllr McElroy jibed: “Is this an early indication that the lead councillor intends to pass his crown to the Greens for all transport strategy or just this one aspect?”

Cllr Page replied: “What Green parking strategy? This is the parking strategy that encourages more cars in bus lanes to undermine our excellent public transport system.  Confused is an understatement.”

READ MORE: All the streets in Reading with electric car charging points

Cllr McElroy also asked when the council will release an electric vehicle charging strategy.

Cllr Page replied that the administrations’ strategy -Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy- will be brought forward to the SEPT committee this June.

Cllr McElroy said Green councillors have been asking for the strategy since lamp post chargers for electric cars were installed in 2019-2020.

The charge were installed by electrical infrastructure company Joju Solar, with 15 charging points at lamp posts being placed in  Coventry Road, Filey Road, Manchester Road and St Bartholemews Road, East Street, Anstey Road, Caversham Road and Wantage Road.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre