Chelmsford Council leader gives way a little on Hylands parking charges

Parking in one of Essex’s beautiful large parks will be cheaper than initially proposed.

Chelmsford City Council leader Stephen Robinson says he has listened to residents’ concerns about a planned hike in parking charges at Hylands Park, and will bring the cost down slightly.

But Cllr Robinson (LibDem, St Andrews) insisted some payment is required to help balance the council’s COVID-damaged finances.

A new one-hour charge, annual season ticket options for non-residents, and a seven-day per week season ticket option for Chelmsford residents have been added to the plans following two separate rounds of consultation.

It means the proposals now on the table include a one-hour charge of £2 for residents and £3.35 for non-residents for those who wish to stay up to an hour.

Parking for more than an hour will cost £3 for residents and £5 for non-residents.

Five and seven-day annual season tickets for Chelmsford will cost residents £4.50 and £6 a month respectively.

Five and seven-day annual season tickets for non-residents at £6.75 and £8.25 a month respectively.

Chelmsford residents may also add a second car for £1.35 a month for 5 days (£16.20 a year) or £1.80 a month for 7 days (£21.60 a year).

There has been strong opposition to the plans to introduce parking charges at the 231 hectare park – with one petition asking for the plans to be scrapped signed by 7,500 people.

But Cllr Robinson said charges needed to be introduced one hand to improve the council’s budget which has been severely damaged by Covid restrictions and on the other to make it fairer for Chelmsford taxpayers who end up paying the full maintenance cost even though many people use it from outside the city.

The proposals are due to be voted on at the cabinet meeting on October 12.

Cllr Robinson said: “We have taken on board the responses from the public to the consultation and have the reduced the charges that we were proposing for the season tickets and there was strong representation from non-residents that they wanted a season ticket as well so we are introducing a season ticket discount for non residents as well.

“We are introducing a one hour only parking because originally there as going to be a flat rate so what we are doing is one hour parking charge and then the original proposal for £3 is there for more than one hour.”

Thorndon Country Park in Brentwood costs £2.20 up to 1 hour and over 3 hours £5.50. Notley Country Park in Braintree costs £2.20 up to one hour. Over three hours costs £6.50.

Cllr Robinson said: “It is still cheaper than many other country parks. If you go to Notley or Thorndon for two or more hours then Hylands will still be cheaper.

“There are reasons we are proposing charges.

“One is because it’s not fair that all the costs of maintaining Hylands falls on Chelmsford taxpayers given lots of non-residents use the park.

“Then there is a budget shortfall pressures which are ongoing.

“Overall the budget is ticking along okay but the budget assumes an income from Hylands.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter