A NEIGHBOUR has blasted Reading Borough Council for allowing anonymous responses to a consultation parking changes down a residential street in East Reading.

The council held a consultation into tightening restrictions in The Mount, which is made up of houses, apartments, bungalows and the Progress Theatre.

The Mount currently has parking restrictions for non permit holders in place Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm for two hours, with no return within two hours.

Proposed changes would mean that restrictions would be in place from 8am to 8pm Monday to Sunday for two hours, with no return within two hours.

A large number of people responding raised fears that the changes would ‘devastate’ Progress Theatre.

READ MORE: Fears parking changes could ‘devastate’ Reading theatre 

But Mount resident Niki Haywood, 38, complained that the consultation had been ‘hijacked’  by cloned responses.

She said “The whole consultation has been alarming. People can provide anonymous responses, and submit them as many times as they wanted.

“Residents have been liasing with the council for a whole year, writing emails, phoning them… The only opposition has been shown from non residents.

“The objections have been drummed up from a social media campaign that targeted theatre groups across the UK, as far as Cambridge and Bristol, people who have never been to the theatre and don’t live in The Mount.

Reading Chronicle: The entry to The Mount in the Redlands university area in Reading. Credit: Google MapsThe entry to The Mount in the Redlands university area in Reading. Credit: Google Maps

“We pay £150 a year for a permit, to have people who have no vested interest, pay nothing and have frankly little information having an impact.

“Local democracy has been hijacked by a social media campaign by people who don’t live in Berkshire.

“This is a community issue that’s been hijacked, and it could happen to anybody in Reading.”

Ms Haywood called for the council to enact the proposed changes and adapt the consultation process so it’s less vulnerable to cloned responses and more tailored to residents the changes would specifically effect.

Replying to her arguments, a council spokesperson said: “The statutory consultation process is determined by national regulations and is routinely used by local authorities to propose and seal new Traffic Regulation Orders.

“A statutory consultation is open to anyone who considers themselves to be impacted by the proposals and for those people to make their arguments.

“Those arguments are then weighed up by the Sub-Committee as part of its decision making process.

“The decision is not based on the highest number of responses.”

The council spokesperson said that respondent’s addresses and other personal information is not collected.

Adding: “Under Data Protection law, capturing this information is not necessary and adds no weighting to the process, and therefore is not a requirement for the response.

“This Traffic Regulation Order also includes proposed parking changes across the borough, so a decision must be made for all items before it can be sealed and any element implemented.

“No progress can be made on any element of the Traffic Regulation Order until the decisions for all elements have been made.

“The council cannot pre-empt the decision of the Traffic Management Sub-Committee in June so cannot comment at the likelihood of these proposals being adopted or not.”

READ MORE: Reading Progress theatre hit with potential parking restrictions

The proposed changes to parking at The Mount were discussed at a traffic management sub committee meeting on Thursday March 3.

Ms Haywood spoke on behalf of 21 households during the meeting.

Councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) explained that the council has the three following options:

  1. Approve the proposed restrictions as they are
  2. Reject them
  3. Make changes to the proposed restrictions


Cllr Page added: “The consultation was carried out in the normal fashion required by law, and that is what we did.

“The sub committee felt it was appropriate to defer a decision to a allow further discussions between residents, us and the theatre.”

The next committee meeting is scheduled for June 15.