RESPONDING to the growing issue of bike thefts from Reading Station, the council has announced that CCTV will be installed in the town's largest cycle hub, located on the Caversham side of the main train station.

Bike thefts are commonly reported throughout the town, with the station hub near the coaches at the northern interchange being targeted often.

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Bike thefts

In September alone, Reading Station saw 23 crimes reported - of these, seven were bicycle thefts.

In the 12 months from October 2019 - September 2020, 421 bikes were reported stole from the town, accounting for 7.4 per cent of Reading's reported crimes in the year.

For the last three years, from November 2017 - September 2020, there have been 1,119 cases of bike theft from central Reading reported - 6 per cent of overall crime in the town throughout the period.

CCTV and new information points

The new CCTV comes as part of £36,000 of funding for the council, which will also go towards the installation of three new information points placed around Reading Station to help people find their way around the town.

The new CCTV cameras – expected to be operational in early 2021 – will be connected to the central CCTV facility overseen by the Reading Borough Council (RBC) and Thames Valley Police (TVP).

It sits along new bike security marking initiatives which will launch alongside this.

'Wayfinding' signs

Reading Chronicle:

Known as ‘wayfinding’ signs, the new information points will feature maps with a wealth of useful information for visitors on how to find key destinations around the centre of Reading, including transport interchanges, local landmarks, key points of interest, educational facilities, cycle parking, parks and open spaces, shopping streets, local centres and road names.

They will replace the old, out of date information points dotted around the town centre.

They also complement existing pedestrian signage installed as part of the RBC's Abbey Quarter project.

The council’s ambition is to roll them out in other parts of Reading as part of a longer-term strategy of enhanced information for pedestrians and cyclists, but this is subject to future successful funding bids.

Council officers worked closely with local councillors, Network Rail and local community groups to ensure the new signs include some of Reading’s key destinations and historic landmarks.

The new units are located in front of the main station access on the Southern Interchange, Station Hill, in line with the station subway, and in front of the north Station access on the Northern Interchange.

Funding for the new ‘wayfinding’ signs was secured by RBC from Great Western Railway’s Customer and Communities Improvement Fund.

"Capital of the Thames Valley"

Councillor Tony Page, RBC's lead councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: "Whether for business or recreation, Reading remains the de facto capital of the Thames Valley and a major visitor destination in the south east region.

"While the ongoing pandemic may have temporarily curtailed people's movements, it is important we make the area around Reading Station as welcoming as possible, and make it easy for people to easily and quickly find their way around.

"The three new signs achieve that by signposting people to key landmarks, including bus stops, shopping centres and road names, and I’d like to thank local ward Councillors for their important input into that process.

"In the coming months, new CCTV will also be installed at Reading's biggest cycle hub on the Caversham side of the station, which we know has been the victim of some bike thefts since it opened.

"The new cameras will be linked to a central CCTV unit which is constantly monitored, bringing an extra level of reassurance to the hundreds of cyclists who park their bikes at the hub every week."

Reading Chronicle:

Cllr Tony Page

Tom MacLachlan, Regional Development Manager for Great Western Railway, said: "Improving information and security at stations are important issues for our customers and GWR is delighted to be able to support these enhancements, working with our partners at RBC through the Customer and Communities Improvement Fund."

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Susan Evans, Network Rail's Head of Stations and Passenger Experience, said: "We are proud to be a part of the Reading community and the new wayfinding signs will help give the many visitors to the town the perfect welcome.

"Reading Station has been transformed in recent years and this is another step forwards in improving the area and making the station even better connected with the rest of the town."