BELHUS cricket club, which runs many senior and youth sides, has condemned plans by Thurrock Council’s Conservative ruling group to increase car parking charges – mocking the council’s assertion that by putting charges on car parks they will be helping avert anti-social behavior.
The council’s plans to impose parking charges at recreation sites first came to light in December last year.
Belhus Cricket Club, which has its main ground in North Stifford, utilises and maintains South Ockendon Recreation Ground which is one of the sites where the council plans to impose new parking charges.
A statement from the cricket club says: “Belhus CC has a significant interest in this matter as our second, third and fourth XI teams play at South Ockendon Recreation Ground, known as the Rec, and the sports pitches and pavilion there are maintained by the sports clubs themselves, which includes extensive contributions from this club.
“Belhus CC strongly object to the proposed introduction of car parking charges at Ockendon Recreation Ground and we urge Cabinet at Thurrock Council not to adopt the proposal for this venue for the following reasons:
• Car park charges creates an unfair tax on outdoor sport and lifestyles
• Thurrock Council’s proposed 24/7 car parking charges at the Rec appears contrary to HM Government’s; ‘More people taking part in Sport and Physical Activity’ strategy.
• Thurrock Council’s proposed 24/7 car parking charges at the Rec appears contrary to objectives of HM Government’s DCMS Culture Renewal Taskforce; the view of ensuring that sport and culture can re-open successfully in the post-covid era.
• Thurrock Council proposed 24/7 car parking charges at the REC appears contrary to Council’s own Active Place Strategy; This strategy was adopted by Thurrock Council Cabinet at its meeting held on 13th January 2021.
• Thurrock Council proposed 24/7 car parking charges at the Rec appears unfair when measured against similar recreation grounds in Thurrock; Ockendon Rec is the only playing field of its type which is earmarked for charges.
• Thurrock Council has shown a lack of consideration given to clubs such as ours who self-maintain the sports pitches and pavilion;
• Incorrect nomenclature of venue given refers to “South Ockendon Recreational Centre” and this incorrect naming was recently reported as such on a BBC News website item. Thurrock Council proposing 24/7 car parking charges at the REC maintained that the site encourages ‘a large turnover of vehicles’. Belhus CC consider this to be wholly inappropriate for Ockendon Recreation Ground which is a small, basic public park and not in any way a ‘Recreational Centre’, which implies multiple single visits from across the region.
• Thurrock Council has made an incorrect assumption that car parking regulation would reduce Anti-Social Behaviour;
• The Thurrock Council Report proposing 24/7 car parking charges at the REC received at Cabinet has not yet scrutinised by Council committee;
• Belhus CC question whether the estimated annual income is far in excess of what the actual maintenance costs are for each of the four venues highlighted for proposed 24 hour, 7 days a week carpark charges.
• Uncertainty and lack of confidence in car parking permit scheme;
• Belhus CC contend that there is now a likelihood of parking vehicle congestion in neighbouring streets.”