Anger at car charge plans for parks

�Proposals to introduce car parking charges to two Romford parks has been met with anger.

As part of the �16million savings package recently reviewed by an all-party Joint Scrutiny Committee, a proposal to introduce charges in Lodge Farm Park and Cottons Park was challenged by shadow cabinet member for towns and communities, Cllr Linda Hawthorn, and leader of the opposition, Cllr Clarence Barrett.

The proposal is designed to deter commuters from leaving their cars at the parks and would bring in around �40,000 to the council’s coffers.

Backward step

Cllr Hawthorn said: “After the considerable investment we have put into our parks – which includes eight Green Flag awards – we want to encourage residents into our parks rather than deterring them through car park charges. Any proposal to introduce car park charges is a backward step and should be dropped forthwith.”

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However, in defending the proposal, Cllr Steven Kelly, deputy leader of the council, said: “At our Cabinet meeting in July we outlined a new financial strategy to help us save a further �16million, to bridge the funding gap we are facing of �40million over four years, following government funding cuts.

“Plans to introduce parking charges in some of our parks was included in this strategy to help remove commuter parking and ensure spaces are not blocked for genuine park users. Discussions are still under way and nothing has yet been implemented.”

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Cllr Barrett said: “It simply punishes park users who, for a whole host of reasons, may choose to drive to the park. There should be absolutely no car park charges in our parks. Commuters can easily be deterred by introducing a maximum stay time limit.”

Cllr Hawthorn proposed that the scheme be reconsidered by the cabinet, but this was refused by the Tory members of the Scrutiny Committee.

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