New by-laws on cycling and overnight parking proposed for Havering parks

Tents and caravans would be banned from Havering's open spaces to stop illegal Traveller encampments

Tents and caravans would be banned from Havering's open spaces to stop illegal Traveller encampments. Picture: Steve Poston - Credit: Archant

Overnight parking, unauthorised events and using a playground over the age of 14 will be banned in Havering’s open spaces if new by-laws are approved.

Havering Council plans to update the borough’s laws for parks for the first time since the 1980s, including expanding them to cover more than 150 open spaces.

Other notable changes include banning the use of tents or caravans, aimed at stopping illegal Traveller encampment, and permitting “responsible” cycling on all routes.

The new draft laws were approved by the council’s cabinet last week and residents will now be consulted on what they think.

At an overview and scrutiny board meeting, councillors questioned whether the new laws should be even stricter, particularly on cycling.

Cllr Osman Dervish (Con, Pettits), responsible for the environment, told the board: “We are very blessed in our borough to have such a wide range of open green spaces.

“These by-laws are long overdue, especially on such issues as incursions from Travellers, and will allow us to have some teeth in dealing with these issues on land where we would not have been able to do so previously.”

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Parks officer James Rose told the committee said the by-laws were “in desperate need of modernisation”.

He added: “The process (of introducing the new laws) will take a minimum of 12 months but could take up to 18 months, it’s not going to be relatively quick.”

A report prepared for cabinet estimated the cost of public consultation and new signs would be around £5,000.

Some councillors felt the proposed by-law around cycling, which states “no person shall cycle in such a manner as to cause annoyance or risk to any other others”, was not strict enough.

Cllr Judith Holt (Con, Romford Town) said: “I have had many complaints from residents about dangerous, aggressive cyclists and I have a friend who’s nearly been knocked over.

“Cycle lanes are all very well but they do block out other people. There was a time, many years ago, that it was illegal to cycle in these places.

“It rather concerns me that the by-law is being softened, I think it ought to be tightened up. I think cycling ought to be banned in parks.”

Mr Rose responded: “It’s about balance. If we were to take a poll, some people would share Cllr Holt’s view but then cycling is being promoted as a sustainable form of transport.

“If we were to ban cycling, we would be satisfying one group of people but disadvantaging another.

“What we are suggesting is responsible cycling but that’s why we are doing the public consultation: to gauge residents’ views.”

Cllr Sally Miller (Con, Elm Park) raised a concern that electric scooters were not included in the new laws, saying there is a “massive problem” with them in parks at the moment.

She added: “Some of them are being used by drug dealers. The police can’t catch them because they go down alleyways so the officers have to go after them on foot.”

Mr Rose responded that the issue of electric scooters is something the council “would definitely consider” while finalising the new laws.