AROUND £70,000 is spent on maintaining Eastrop Park each year, the council has confirmed.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has revealed how much money is spent on the town centre park annually, after proposing to introduce charges for the car parks to go towards this maintenance cost.

As previously reported, the borough council wants to charge for people to use the two car parks at Eastrop charging £1.10 for up to an hour; £2.20 for two hours; £3.20 for three hours; £4.30 for four hours; and £12.80 for anyone staying longer than four hours.

The charges would apply from 8am until 7pm Monday to Sunday, with evening charges of £2.20.

Park users reacted with fury to the plans, labelling them “outrageous”, “disgusting” and “mean spirited”, with many objecting to the proposals during the consultation period, which closed on July 17.

The Gazette asked the council what the money raised through parking charges would be used for specifically, and how much money is currently spent on the park.

Borough council cabinet member for regulatory services, Cllr Hayley Eachus, said the cost of maintaining Eastrop Park comes from the overall grounds maintenance budget.

She said the council employs two full-time equivalent grounds maintenance staff to maintain the park and “spends a significant sum on bedding plants every year”.

She added: “In addition to this and to ensure the park continues to meet the high standards required for its green flag status, the council incurs costs for tasks such as litter picking and bin emptying, weekly safety inspections of the play equipment, and the costs of running/maintaining the paddling pool and water feature.

"While we are unable to provide an exact figure, the combined costs exceed £70,000 per annum.”

Regarding money raised through parking charges, Cllr Eachus said the East of Basingstoke Natural Environment Management Plan will “set out a vision for the future of Eastrop Park, together with the other large parks and open spaces”.

She added: “Parking income contributes to the overall costs of the council and will therefore contribute to funding the running costs of the park, and any potential enhancements identified through this plan.”

She did not provide further details as to what exactly money raised through car parking charges would be used for.

Cllr Eachus previously told the Gazette that the parking charges will make the use of Eastrop’s car parks “fairer”, explaining: “The car park is currently free of charge and is known to be well used by shoppers and visitors to Basing View, meaning that there can be less spaces available to visitors to the park.

“Introducing car parking charges at the site would strike a fair balance between those visiting the park and those who park at the site to visit the town centre. They could also help towards the upkeep of the park.”