Update on Romford’s leisure centre, new chief executive and debate on parking charges in parks at Havering Council meeting

Leader of the council Cllr Roger Ramsey said more information would be sent to residents about alter

Leader of the council Cllr Roger Ramsey said more information would be sent to residents about alternative methods of payment - Credit: Archant

An update on Romford’s leisure centre, the appointment of a new chief executive and a long-debate on parking charges in parks were all on the agenda of last night’s Havering Council meeting.

The end of a four-year saga is close as work on the site of Romford’s long-awaited leisure centre is due to start next week after supermarket chain Morrisons completed the demolition of Chaucer House, Western Road, Romford.

The site will now be handed over to Havering Council and the first bricks will be laid in early May.

Leader of the council Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “This is an important moment for residents and I thank them for their patience.”

A new council chief executive has been appointed after Cheryl Coppell OBE, who held the post for the last nine years, announced her retirement.

Deputy chief executive Andrew Blake-Herbert was successful in securing the post.

A member of Havering Council since 2009, Mr Blake-Herbert told the Recorder he will bring continuity to the management of the council and was “excited” at the prospect of his new role.

Most Read

“The big challenge coming forward is the level of austerity the council is facing, how we can support residents in the borough and what the council can do as part of that process,” he added.

Councillors also debated whether parking charges in parks are viable after it was reported the council failed to meet its income target.

The proposal to charge drivers 20p for up to three hours parking and 50p for five hours or more in 19 of the borough’s parks was made in October and prompted mixed reactions from residents and sports clubs.

The green light was given to install parking machines last year in Cottons Park, Romford, Upminster Park, Upminster and Lodge Farm Park, Gidea Park.

A motion put forward by the Residents’ Group recommended parking charges in parks be scrapped while an amendment by the Independent Residents’ Group suggested the charges were removed only from the four parks, where the charges currently apply.

But the Conservative Group amendment gathered the most votes. It stated the council will review the scheme before a final decision is made.

From Shakespeare references to councillors asked to “pull their socks up”, it was a lively meeting with plenty to discuss.

Read a full report of the meeting in tomorrow’s Recorder.