Thursday, 26 November 2020

Car park charges frozen after all

CHARGES at Mill Meadows car park in Henley will stay the same next year after all.

CHARGES at Mill Meadows car park in Henley will stay the same next year after all.

Last week, the Henley Standard reported that the fees were to increase by more than six per cent from January 1 on the recommendation of the town council’s Mill Meadows and river sub-committee.

But on Tuesday, this was rejected by the recreation and amenities committee.

Town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said parking was cheaper elsewhere.

“If I was a family on a budget then I know which riverside towns I would go,” he said. “If, as reported in the Henley Standard, car park charges are to fund improvements, why is a grant application for the toilets refurbishment to be made to South Oxfordshire District Council?

“The expected profit from the meadows this year is likely to be £188,000 and the budget for next year expects this to rise to £216,000.

“I contend that this town council needs these profits, not to fund improvements in the meadows, but to balance the council budget.

“It is a cash cow and is at the expense of the visitors we claim to encourage.”

Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin proposed freezing the charges, saying: “We have had a very good summer and enough is enough.”

Councillor Sam Evans agreed, saying: “I feel we would be penalising visitors and most of the parking for one hour is by residents.”

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said the extra income was needed.

“We are going to be making some fairly major upgrades to the Mill Meadows facilities that have to be paid for,” he said.

But Councillor Joan Bland said: “I don’t agree with putting up parking charges as residents go there to walk their dogs — let them have a break.

“We have bad facilities there at the moment — the toilets aren’t that good. There is adequate revenue to pay for all these new improvements over a period of time, it doesn’t have to be spent in a single year.”

The town council is planning to refurbish the toilets at the Leichlingen pavilion in Mill Meadows, which could cost £100,000. It has also earmarked £50,000 for upgrading the toddler playground in next year’s budget.

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