Anger as drivers face parking charges in three Havering parks

Plans to introduce car parking charges in three Havering parks were called-in by the council opposition group last week.

A special meeting of the towns and communities overview and scrutiny committee was held and members debated the charges for Upminster, Cottons and Lodge Farm parks.

But the committee rejected calls to refer the decision back to cabinet, so they will still go ahead.

Opposition members slammed the plans to introduce the charges, asking a series of questions, including whether alternative options were considered and whether there had been complaints about commuters using the car parks.

Cllr Linda Hawthorn (Residents’ Group, Upminster) said: “The [Upminster] Windmill car park already has barriers in place until 9.30am to deter commuters and this works well.

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“There is no need to introduce these charges as we should be encouraging people into our parks not charging them for the privilege.”

Cllr Clarence Barrett (Residents’ Group, Cranham) said after the meeting: “Despite no evidence being presented that there is a commuter parking problem, no idea on cost, no consideration of alternative options and a consultation process that did not even include affected sports clubs or neighbouring properties, it beggars belief that such a decision can be made with little or no substantive proof that there is a need.

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“Charging people to use our parks is wrong and users should not be penalised for that privilege.

“It’s not a case of just 20p or 50p or �1, we pay the third highest council tax in London, which already pays for our parks.”

But Havering Council leader, Cllr Michael White, said: “We want to make sure residents can enjoy our award-winning parks, rather than have our car parks full of commuters driving into the borough.

“We have some of the cheapest car parking charges in London. Parking for two hours on Monday to Friday will cost 20p, it will be free on Sundays. Unfortunately we face a huge difference in central government funding compared to other boroughs. Newham gets �857 per person from the government, we get �226.”

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