WORK has finally begun on the long-awaited permanent car park for Southall.
Ealing Council confirmed that construction work has begun on the project, which will now be half its estimated original cost of about £5million, as the council got a better deal than expected on the land.
The old cattle market has been chosen as the site for around 100 spaces and Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, visited it on Thursday, June 20 to help with demolition.
He said: "I believe that the council should be investing in our local communities even in tough economic times. I am delighted to say that we expect the car park to be delivered at half the projected costs, which represents great value for money for the council and tax payer.
"This project is essential to the regeneration of Southall and, with Crossrail coming and the major transport improvement works due to start soon in Southall Broadway, this is the right time to support businesses and do our bit to help keep the town centre as a destination shopping area."
Mr Bell said Southall traders and shoppers have been asking for more and better situated parking for several years. An existing car park in Herbert Road is often busy but this means that people drive around looking for parking spaces, increasing the congestion in Southall, or choose to shop elsewhere.
The total cost of the project is estimated at £2.5m, which includes the cost of buying the land, design and construction. The site is scheduled to open to shoppers in the early autumn.
Conservative councillor Philip Taylor, shadow cabinet member for transport and the environment, said: "Obviously I’m very pleased that the cost has been lowered but I still feel this project will be uneconomical. The money that is needed to cover this will be absorbed by the project, but I don’t think it will be generating any additional revenue."
Janpal Basran, manager of Southall Community Alliance, said: "We have a huge traffic problem in Southall and a culture of using cars, even for short journeys. For some time we have needed extra car parking capacity, but we need to have a long term strategy for dealing with this issue. I welcome the new car park and hope that its entrance does not contribute to more traffic building up on the Uxbridge Road.
"But we simply cannot keep on building car parks in the future and need to address this head on now. We need to seriously think of alternatives, such as better availability and use of public transport, car sharing and alternative forms of transport such as cycling.
"This might also be an opportunity to review the very long CPZ hours in Southall, in a way that is fair to residents and car users."