18 March 2018
On Thursday 22nd March Lee Valley Regional Park Authority will meet to re-assess their recently introduced parking charges.
The charges of £2.50 following one free hour were introduced to formerly free car parks at Waltham Abbey Gardens in October 2017 and rolled out to others on 9th March. There were no concessions provided for blue badge holders.
Following a massive campaign by the community-led Lee Valley Parking Action Group the Authority will now consider several amendments, including free parking for blue badge holders, a £50 annual permit and one-hour parking for £1 after the initial free hour.
Green Party activist Dave Plummer, who wrote to Lee Valley Regional Park Authority about the impact on blue badge holders in late January and has been involved with the campaign since its mid-February launch, said,
'The introduction of the charges, without any meaningful public consultation, has already seen people avoid our beautiful Lee Valley Park. It's just not possible to properly enjoy the surroundings in less than an hour. £2.50 might seem reasonable for a day's parking but for disabled, retired and other people who use the park every day that soon mounts up.'
'While the Green Party encourages alternatives to car use we accept that in some cases that's not possible. For example, Fishers Green is off the Crooked Mile which isn't safe for pedestrians. Many wheelchair users and other people living with disabilities rely on motor vehicles, as do dog walkers and anglers, who already pay to use Lee Valley Park.'
'Even for people who can use buses the cost and infrequent service can be prohibitive. During weekdays Fishers Green is served by one intermittent bus which costs £3 for the short 1.5-mile journey from Waltham Abbey town centre. There's no evening bus service on weekdays and Saturdays and no service at all on Sundays.'
'It's notable that, despite having members on the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority's Board, neither Epping Forest District Council nor Waltham Abbey Town Council made any comment when the charges came in. Waltham Abbey Town Council made a welcome, but belated, representation to Lee Valley Regional Park Authority on 8th March, over five months after the first charges were introduced.'
'The physical and mental health benefits of access to nature are well known. Reducing that access only increases potential future costs for our health service and well-being. Ironically, these charges have only been introduced as a result of cuts to central government funding to councils, who in turn have had to reduce their support to facilities like Lee Valley Regional Park, leaving them to find the money elsewhere.'
Lee Valley Region Park Authority Executive Committee meets on Thursday 22nd March, 10.30am, at Myddelton House, Bulls Cross, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 9HG.
Visit http://leevalleyparkingactiongroup.org.uk for more details about the campaign.
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