More than 1,700 people have signed a petition calling on Havering Council to bin its "horrendous" plan to introduce car parking charges at Havering parks.

The authority is proposing to bring in charges in line with its on-street rates - including £3 for up to an hour and £5 for up to two hours.

Brian Eagling, East Havering Residents' Group councillor for Harold Wood, felt the proposed charges would price out families and sports clubs from valued public spaces.

Cllr Eagling claimed clubs at Harold Wood Park would lose out since adult players and parents would be unable to afford parking fees.

Havering Council said the charges are among several proposals it has had to consider to find savings to bridge a multi-million pound budget shortfall.

In September 2023, the council warned it was six to 12 months away from declaring itself effectively bankrupt.

A petition calling on the authority to keep free parking at Harold Wood Park and all the borough's parks has been backed by all three Harold Wood councillors - Cllrs Eagling, Martin Goode and Darren Wise. It had 1,753 signatures as of January 15.

It will be handed in at a full council meeting tomorrow (January 17).

Cllr Eagling said children, families and long-standing sports clubs should not be the ones to suffer if the charges begin in April or May.

"It's horrendous really the charge," he said. "Many sports people and children come, parents will then park in side roads and they will cause congestion.

"Some people come to watch their children play football and they can't afford to pay their subs, let alone the car parking charges.

"It's just crazy what they're (the council) trying to do," he added.

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However, the council said difficult decisions were necessary to help close its forecasted budget gap of around £31 million.

“In an ideal world we wouldn’t want to have to make any of these difficult decisions – but we are in a position now where we have very few options left open to us," a spokesperson said.

"We are very restricted in what we can do and will need to make some tough and potentially painful decisions."

Cllr Eagling acknowledged that the council needs to balance its budget, but felt the charges were excessive.

"It's scandalous", he said. "I don't know why they would want to charge that amount of money."

The council said it would carefully consider feedback from its budget consultation, which ran from November 9 to December 18, to guide any decision-making.