New CCTV cameras have been installed at car parks in Woodley, Earley and Wokingham, prompting drivers to query why they are there.

The cameras have been put in place in some of the biggest car parks in Wokingham Borough, which also covers Woodley and Earley.

Drivers in Woodley in particular have been querying why new CCTV has been installed at the massive Crockhamwell Road car park, which most people know as the Waitrose car park.

Residents have speculated that the CCTV has been installed to identify spaces, whereas others believe they have been put in place to ward against catalytic converter theft.

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Councillor Keith Baker, who is on both Wokingham Borough Council and Woodley Town Council, has explained that the CCTV will be used to monitor parking space availability.

Cllr Baker (Conservative, Coronation) said: “The primary reason is to inform drivers so that they don’t have to drive around looking for a space.

“What can happen is when people drive into a major town, they go to a car park expecting spaces to be available and none are, so they go to another car park and they end up driving around.

“So this CCTV does make a contribution to reducing potential congestion. It should help to stop people driving around looking for a space, that’s the theory.”

Reading Chronicle: The entrance to Headley Road Car Park in Woodley, which will also benefit from the CCTV.The entrance to Headley Road Car Park in Woodley, which will also benefit from the CCTV.

He added that similar technology assists commuters coming into Reading.

Cllr Baker said: “The tech has been around for a long time.

“A by product is that the police have access to the CCTV footage. If there is anti-social behaviour or other offences, the police can access the footage.”

The speculation over the reason for the new cameras was discussed on the Woodley Chats & Rants Facebook page, with some users saying that the CCTV is a “waste of money.”

Inspired by complaints like this, the Local Democracy Reporting Service asked Wokingham Borough Council where else the cameras had been installed and how much the project has cost.

The council have said the total cost of the project is £178,878.21 across all sites. CCTV has been put in the following car parks:

  • Winnersh Park and Ride, Winnersh – 491 spaces
  • Thames Valley Park and Ride, Earley – 258 spaces
  • Carnival Pool multi-storey, Wokingham – 529 spaces (additional CCTV on what’s already there is due by the end of 2021)
  • Cockpit Path car park, Wokingham – 106 spaces
  • Easthampstead Road east car park, Wokingham – 57 spaces
  • Crockhamwell Road car park, Woodley – 168 spaces

CCTV is being installed or due to be installed at:

  • Coppid Beech park and ride, Wokingham – not open yet
  • Denmark Street car park, Wokingham – 46 spaces
  • Shute End car parks, Wokingham – 209 spaces
  • Headley Road car park, Woodley – 205 spaces

A council spokesperson said: “The installation of CCTV is some of our car parks is to monitor the levels of car park usage, especially in our busier town centres.

“Coupled with sensors in the car park, this will enable us to provide information on the numbers of available spaces in the car parks on automated signage in these areas.

“This information will help drivers to see the availability of spaces, thereby reducing circulating traffic movements and improve traffic flow, reduce fuel wastage, congestion and pollution.  The cameras have an added benefit of monitoring these areas for security, helping us to deter incidents of vehicle theft and reduce anti-social behaviour, reports of which have risen during lockdown.”