After Berkhamsted News submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out how much the temporary car park on the Moor was costing, residents were shocked when they discovered the price.
Despite the car park suffering issues ever since it opened, it has cost a staggering £202,915, with the figure likely to increase, which has outraged Berkhamsted residents.
The temporary car park has faced problems and has closed a number of times due to weather conditions causing it to flood.
The FOI request Berkhamsted News submitted last month queried the price of both the temporary car park and the Lower Kings Road multi-storey car park.
Dacorum Borough Council confirmed the Lower Kings Road multi-storey car park construction contract costs are currently at £4,370,579.
However, whilst our original FOI request came back with costs to construct the temporary car park at £154,807, when these figures didn’t correlate with numbers we heard from alternative sources, we queried further; and were then told the costs were actually at £202,915 ‘following the additional cost of new matting’.
In addition to this, Maggie Procopi, campaigner for the Save Our Moor online Facebook group, said she requested an FOI in August asking the same thing.
She said: “The council told me the original estimate for the temporary car park was £103,003, but the current cost to date for the temporary car park is £202,915, this included an additional cost to hire the top level matting at £44,012 and then to purchase the replacement matting at £55,900.
“They also said the date of acceptance of the sustainable drainage scheme was received on January 14, 2019.”
In response to Maggie’s comment, a resident claimed she was told differently.
Anne Foster said: “I was told that the drainage scheme was completed on January 28. It makes you wonder if anyone knows what’s going on.”
Lisa Gurney said: “It has been a total waste of time and money, it was not needed in the first place, and the beautiful Moor has been destroyed to make way for a concrete eyesore for the extra spaces apparently needed. Let’s hope the Moor eventually is returned to its former beauty.”
Margaret Spencer said: “There has not been enough consideration given to disabled drivers. It was always difficult to park, but now it’s much worse. Even if blue badge drivers could use the moor, it would be impossible to walk to town from there.
“I fully understand all those who want progress, but careful planning should come before construction.”
Liam McGrath said: “It’s been a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. Were the public consulted on building the multi-storey? No.
“In an era of tackling climate change, why are we encouraging driving short distances to go shopping, etc? An unmitigated mess up.”
Debra Howell said: “Why are the council spending almost £5million to build a multi-storey car park in Berkhamsted? I thought the environmental plan was to reduce car usage rather than encourage it.
“This is a small town. Most people can easily walk in to do their shopping or use a delivery service. We should be dissuading the general public from using cars and subsidising people with mobility problems who need help with transport.”
A spokesperson for the Dacorum Borough Council said: “The temporary car park was a requirement of the planning conditions for the multi-storey car park, to accommodate the displaced parking arising from the temporary closure of the Lower Kings Road surface car park during the construction period.
“The Moor was the only viable council owned site within the vicinity of the town centre for the location of a temporary car park. The risk of flooding in this location was known to the council and to mitigate the risk should this occur the car park would be temporarily closed on health and safety grounds until the area dries out.
“Even though the temporary car park has been closed at stages throughout the year, it has still provided temporary parking which has supported residents and local business.
“The expenditure on the temporary car park is made up from costs associated with discharging the planning conditions (consultancy and professional services), costs associated with the installation of the temporary car park (materials and works) and costs associated with the car park operation (pay and park meters and signs).”
In a recent meeting, it was revealed that 78 spaces of the multi-storey will be allocated to business users.
A resident said: “I’m not an expert but it seems that a car park may not be in demand as the council think. Residents seemingly cope without it.”