Parking charges and sport hire fees to increase above inflation in Redbridge

Pay and display machines will go cash free next year. Picture Archant.

Pay and display machines will go cash free next year. Picture Archant. - Credit: Archant

Concerns have been raised over proposals to increase fees above inflation at parks, allotments and sports hire facilities in the borough.

Conservative leader Cllr Paul Canal told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, October 15, the increase comes at a tim when the council is promoting an anti-sugar drive and tackling obesity.

He said the council should be removing as many obstacles as possible to help residents maintain a healthy lifestyle. “This doesn’t sit well with increased charges greater than inflation when we are encouraging young people to take part in activity,” he said.

“I appreciate you need to cover a budget gap, but is there another way?”

The council wants to increase car parking charges at parks and the cost of hiring sports pitches.

Cllr Canal highlighted the impact the charges could have on older people, who might drive to the park for walks to keep fit.

Cabinet member for civic pride, Cllr Sheila Bain, said the council

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has looked in detail at the prices being charged

“The increase is 30p and the last review of charges was in 2008 – it is not unrealistic to review them now,” she replied.

“We have also tested the market and looked at the charges in neighbouring boroughs and we have no alternative in the current financial market.

“We will still be maintaining leisure cards, over-60s swimming and a 50per cent discount for disabled and over 60s at allotments.”

The charges will save the council £119,000 which will allow it to relocate Woodford Green library to Sir James Hawkey Hall and redevelop the site with homes, community and leisure facilities.

As well as raising parking and sports hire prices, the proposals outline plans to introduce “cashless” parking at all open spaces in Redbridge.

The cost of hiring a cricket or football pitch will increase by 10pc from April 2018 which would generate an additional £4,500 on the basis that “utilisation rates are maintained”.

The council acknowledged that there may be a drop in pitch hire and allotment usage due to increased charges, however there is currently a significant waiting list at some sites.

The cabinet agreed to the proposals.