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Redbridge Sports Centre parking charges plan sparks outrage

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:53 20 January 2017

Redbridge Mini Games at the Redbridge Sports Centre.
Oakdale Junior School  V  Clore Tikva School ( Football )

Redbridge Mini Games at the Redbridge Sports Centre. Oakdale Junior School V Clore Tikva School ( Football )

Archant

A sports centre which sees thousands of residents walk through its doors each week will begin charging visitors to park on site.

Redbridge Sports and Leisure Centre (RSL), Forest Road, Barkingside has offered free parking since it opened in 1972, but from next week will introduce number plate recognition cameras and “paying systems”.

Matt Reynolds, business development manager, said parking charges are a 24-hour solution to a 24-hour misuse problem. But regular users claim it will have a “knock-on effect” on the amount of people playing sport, pictured right.

“The centre has felt the need to respond to high levels of misuse of our private car parks, brought about by the introduction in recent times of charges at many other local car parks, rezoning of London Underground stations as well as increased use of parking restrictions along Forest Road,” said Mr Reynolds.

“These factors have combined to make RSL car parks an easy target for commuters who occupy space in our car park for free but who are not using the centre facilities, which in turn causes significant disruption to our users. The level of misuse reached the point that the car park was regularly full before 9am. So a decision was made to introduce a control system.”

But regular users, such as Sharon Smith, 41, secretary of Leyton Netball Club, are not convinced. They suggest permits for clubs could have been introduced instead.

Sharon told the Recorder: “We pay to train here, for affiliation costs, league costs and now parents will have to drop their children off, to watch them play in the cold and pay for the experience.

“It’s fair enough they (RSL) need to make revenue but there are better ways – such as a barrier at the front. It will have a knock-on effect and they should have considered talking to us first.”

Mr Reynolds said the initiative was about finding balance between curbing misuse and helping genuine users. He said that money generated from the tariffs will go towards car park maintenance.

RSL members will receive six hours of free parking a session and regular non-members can buy an annual pass at a cost of £25 per year for three hours parking per visit. All others will have to pay per use.

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