Situated next to the railway station and opposite the bus station, Slough’s cycle hub has space for 80 bikes, 24-hour CCTV coverage, free WiFi, lockers, toilets and changing facilities. It cost £150,000 to build and yet three months after opening, it still hasn’t had one single user.
UKIP councillor Diana Coad told the Slough Express that Slough Borough Council (SBC) had ‘squandered’ money on the project. “They have cut services to Age Concern who can no longer afford to run at Langley Pavillion and they shut down the Langley Pavillion, yet they still utterly squander tax payers' money on rubbish schemes like this.”
Lynsey Brookfield, from SBC’s transport team, confirmed that no-one has used the facility or signed up to be a member since it opened in July, but said she felt that pricing and awareness were the issues and that both could be addressed.
“The meeting room and workshop at the hub have proved very popular and we’ve had a lot of enquiries from cyclists. However, we think the cost of membership is putting some people off, while others aren’t yet aware the hub is there.
“So we are currently looking for ways to lower the cost of membership and improve signage in the area. We are also hoping to run some special offers in the coming months and expand the services offered on-site.”
At present, a membership card costs £10 per year, which allows unlimited access 24-hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. However, in addition to the joining fee, users must pay £2 each time they use the facility or fees of £35 a month or £385 a year for unlimited access.
Deputy leader of the Slough Conservative Group, Dexter Smith, described the hub as a ‘great disappointment’ and said more effort was needed to follow up on the project. “It makes the whole effort appear like a tick in the box exercise rather than a serious effort to shift commuter travel habits, which is necessary. What is needed here is follow-through; that's something this council sometimes lacks."
Brookfield did however say that the council’s bike hire scheme – which now has seven cycle docking stations across the town – has attracted more than 370 active members.