Rise in Redbridge parking charges a ‘stealth tax’

An outraged jogger has called a 700 per cent hike in parking charges a “stealth tax” which will put pressure on NHS resources.

The minimum charge for up to an hour’s parking at some parks and green spaces in Redbridge will increase from 10p to 70p on Saturday and notices warning motorists went up in the parks last week.

Retired Paul Lofton, 62, of Icknield Drive, Gants Hill, uses Clayhall Park, Longwood Gardens, every day for a brisk 20 minute jog.

He says with the increases, the weekly cost to him of parking at the green space will increase from 70p to nearly �5.

He said: “To put up charges like this with only a few days notice is absolutely outrageous. It is a tax by stealth on those least able to pay it, the elderly.

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“If people stop using parks in large numbers because of parking charges, that means increased health problems and cost to the NHS.”

Charges for parking in the borough’s car parks were introduced in June last year to deter commuters and increase revenue for the open spaces as they strived to be awarded Green Flag status.

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But in a bid to raise even more money from the space the council decided in April to increase the minimum payment for up to an hour to 70p.

This was published on the council website at the time.

Prices will go up at Valentines Park, Fairlop Waters, Seven Kings Park, Goodmayes Park, Clayhall Park, Ray Park, Barkingside Recreational Ground and Wanstead Library.

Speaking after the introduction of fees last year, council leader Cllr Keith Prince said: “We are hoping the majority of park users will understand the reasons for applying higher charges and over the next years will see the visual benefit of increased investment.”

A Redbridge Council spokesman said the increase was part of the budget-setting process in March.

She added: “The new charges will apply to parks where charging was put in place in June 2010.

“The change will put the parking charges in line with other parking charges in the borough. Hainault Forest Country Park will continue to operate a separate charging system of �1 for up to one hour and �3 all day.

“There is a concession for relevant sports clubs.”

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