Council should be ashamed of its pinchpenny, uncharitable approach on Eastrop Park

Dear Editor,

I read your articles ‘Council says Eastrop parking charges are 'fair balance'’ on July 6 and ‘Public reacts with anger to Eastrop parking charges’ on July 3 with great dismay.  It can never be right to charge for access to our local green space. 

I live in Norden which has a distinct and recognised shortage of green space. So, we take our children to Eastrop Park to cycle because it is the only traffic-free cycle route that I know of in Basingstoke.

We take the children's bikes in the car and use the car park because the main roads into town are too dangerous and the cycle path provision is inadequate. 

I also know local mums and childminders are fuming that under these proposals they will have to pay to use probably the best play park in Basingstoke. 

Childminders do not earn much and every penny counts - so I can see them stopping use of Eastrop Park or driving further afield which is not great for our environment or our local children. 

I spoke personally with other park users who would now be dissuaded from having family picnics at Eastrop park. 

The car parks are rarely full. So access to the park is not being blocked by inconsiderate parking. 

So, the ‘fairness’ argument espoused by Cllr Hayley Eachus is bogus.

In fact it is totally unfair because it adversely impacts the young, vulnerable, elderly and female members of our community. 

In other walks of life, this sort of indirect discrimination is illegal. 

Unfortunately, this forms part of a new post-Covid pattern by our council of restricting access to our green spaces - like the car park evening closures at Crabtree Plantation - when exactly the opposite should be happening in the wake of a global pandemic. 

Our councillors should be dedicating their efforts to boosting access to our green spaces, especially when residents - like those in Norden - face a constant erosion of green space quotas through over-development. 

I think the council should be ashamed of its pinchpenny, uncharitable approach and I encourage fellow residents to express their views to before July 17 (this Friday) deadline.

Paul Basham, Cromwell Road