At 10am this morning there were no daily parking spaces available at Basingstoke station.
Nor were there any suggested alternatives. Just a mass of empty ‘premium spaces’ to match the empty ‘First Class’ seats in trains offering sardine like accommodation to purchasers of ‘Standard Class’ seats. Oh, and a Ferrari parked in two spaces because the arrogant driver obviously feel they and their car are special.
This has been an issue for some time, yet there are no signs of any attempt to rectify the situation. Just a willingness to issue parking tickets for anyone not using marked parking spaces.
While our local Council point the finger at Network Rail, and Network Rail blame “planning issues”; at least our MP is trying to do something. In the House of Commons Maria Miller has raised the issue of lack of investment in the Waterloo line which hasn’t had any major renovation in 30 years. Closer to home our MP has got the Council, Network Rail and South West Trains to agree to set up a Transport Group to look at improvements in our transport network; as well as insisting that before any more significant housing developments are built, we have the infrastructure and services in place to support them.
If Network Rail and the Council stopped pointing fingers at each other and sat round a table to come up with some creative alternatives, they may come up with some temporary solutions while they delivered the obvious solution which is to build a double decker car park. That should take a few months, although judging by the speed of progress at The Black Dam roundabout that seems unlikely.
How about signs telling people that a 15 minute drive will take them to Hook where there are plenty of spaces and frequent trains to London and elsewhere? Or an overfill ‘Park & Ride’ car park on the waste land just a few 100 yards to the north west of the station? The former is an instant solution. The latter should take no more than a few weeks to implement.
If we try to cram even more housing and businesses into a communications corridor already bursting at the seams, the least we can do is use a little bit of ingenuity in solving the problems we are already experiencing.
The good news is that this over capacity issue is a direct result of the economic growth the area is benefitting from. What we need is some creative planning and investment to make sure that growth is manageable, sustainable and benefits everyone.