Parking charges brought in at Hornchurch church

St Andrew's Church, Hornchurch

St Andrew's Church, Hornchurch - Credit: Archant

Mourners are set to be charged for parking on a church car park during funerals – or risk being slapped with a ticket.

The recently improved car park

The recently improved car park - Credit: Archant

New parking charges have been introduced by Havering Council on weekdays in its parks and open spaces, including the car park at St Andrew’s Church, High Street, Hornchurch.

Drivers will be charged 20p for up to three hours parking and 50p for five hours and more, but members of the church are not happy with the council for charging people attending funerals and weddings.

Vicar Barry Hobson said on one level he was neutral but agreed it would be harsh to charge people attending funerals.

“It would cause upset if you were attending a funeral and you haven’t got the change, and find you have got a ticket,” he said. “That’s not very good on a day such as that. That is my main concern.”

He also said it was unreasonable for the council not to invest in the car park to improve its conditions.

“If they invested fair enough but they are not going to do anything,” he said.

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A member of the church who didn’t want to be named called the car park a bit of waste land.

“The church is used during the week by young mother groups,” he added. “Then you have all the funerals during the week. Imagine getting a ticket while you were in a funeral.”

The church holds about 50 funerals a year, all during week days, while 10 per cent of weddings are also now held Monday to Friday.

Cllr Roger Ramsey, Havering leader, said the new parking charges were to deter commuters and generate funds to be reinvested into the parks and open spaces and said the council had invested in the car park.

He said: “This car park is one of a number of car parks affected and the decision to allow the introduction of parking charges was decided at cabinet in February, following a borough-wide consultation.

“The charge is only 20p for three hours. We recently carried out improvements to this car park surface prior to a high profile event, and parking will be free in the evenings and at weekends.”