Parking at St. Dunstan's

In 2001 Woking Borough Council started to charge for parking and at that time Cllr David Bittlestone spoke in favour of the parking times being amended so that St Dunstan's congregation could park free of charge - he is a member but didn't declare this according to the minutes. At this stage St Dunstan's were at their old site closer to the town centre.

St Dunstan's then applied to build a new church at the end of the road we live in. The road is a residential area and many objections were raised by residents about parking problems etc. In spite of all the objections, including a number from their own parishioners, Woking Borough Council saw fit to pass the application, after many amendments to appease residents, on 25 May 2005. Cllr Bittlestone spoke in favour of the application and yet again failed to declare his interest. Part of the planning approval included a Section 106 Agreement which requires St Dunstan's to reduce traffic to the site.

The church opened in July 2008 and since then we have seen ever increasing volumes of traffic. The Section 106 only obliges the church to count vehicles four times a year and we are not told in advance when this is so we cannot also count. Rather interestingly the unit of measure used appears to have changed from traffic movements to parking spaces. When asked about this the council has failed to respond.

The documents submitted by St Dunstan's themselves show that the church has consistently failed to meet the requirement tp reduce traffic. Woking Borough Council, however, tell us that the church is compliant with the Section 106 Agreement. In April this year the council solicitor wrote to me telling me that the council would no longer respond to my correspondence about traffic at St Dunstan's because the church was compliant. I queried the process/reason for this and the Head of Democratic and Legal Services, Peter Bryant, wrote back to me advising "This decision was made without reference to Local Government Association guidance". I find this interesting as the council has not really told me why it thinks the problem has been solved.

Woking Borough Council has shown itself quite discriminatory towards religious groups elsewhere in the process - it has granted free parking to a number of churches in the town even though its own legal counsel advised against it. There is also a great deal of bad feeling amongst residents of the town about this free parking for some at the expense of us all. This is being given away at a time when the council is 300 million in debt! One resident has set up a blog about this parking and challenged Carl Thomson - http://shkspr.mobi/blog/index.php/2012/06/and-the-lord-sayeth-thou-shalt-give-free-parking-to-the-faithful/

To make matters worse the church has now applied to extend the opening hours of its social room - this is shown on the Woking Borough Council planning portal with the ref PLAN/2012/0800.

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