Parking is letting down WokinghamBy Lucy Allen
November 11, 2008
Parking is Wokingham’s Achilles heel, according to the new chairman of the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Mary Flavelle, 56, also urged businesses to pull together in order to survive the credit crunch, a message which the FSB has been pushing with its Keep Trade Local campaign, supported by The Wokingham Times.
“Parking is Wokingham’s Achilles heel,” she said. “Not that there is a lack of it, but that too much of it only allows shoppers to park for a limited time.
“If you go into town to get the kids’ school uniform or a new pair of shoes and then think you might stop for lunch, there’s no time, you have to go and move the car.
“Or if you are mooching around the lovely market, you may want to stay all day.
“I know you can park for longer at The Paddocks but I want to park in the middle of town, not have to walk from there.”
She is also worried about Peach Street’s vacant shops.
“Empty shops are the death knell of a town. People see them and think the rest of the town is closed.
“The windows need to be filled so at least they look like something is going on.
“Maybe the college could use them for art exhibitions.”
Mrs Flavelle was appointed chairwoman of the East Berkshire branch of the FSB on Thursday, October 23, and will be in the post for two years.
She has two vice-chairmen, the outgoing chairman Mark May and the next chairman Richard Knight, and has been involved with the FSB for a year already after taking on the role of events organiser last year.
She is excited about her new role.
She said: “I want to see local businesses learning to do business together.
“Don’t look at somebody that is in the same business as you as a competitor, look at them as an associate.
“Then everybody can have the opportunity to grow together.
“We might not grow fast or make millions but we will survive, we just have to have an optimistic outlook.”
Mrs Flavelle’s new patch runs from Wokingham to Slough and takes in Bracknell, Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot.
She said: “I’ve got a lot of great people around me. And I can make the job as big or as small as I like, but knowing me and my history this is going to be a massive job.”
Mrs Flavelle, who runs a networking business, is also a champion of women in business and started the She Plc lunch group at Bracknell Chamber of Commerce and Ladies Who Latte, a women’s coffee group.
She is also an ambassador for women at SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, and was invited to meet Gordon Brown at a lunch last week.
She did not get to ask him a question, but said afterwards: “I wanted to ask him when we can get the banks to take women in business seriously.”