Dear Editor,

I read last week’s article about parking charges at Eastrop Park with concern. 

The council has now confessed, what many already suspected, that it is a revenue raising exercise.  The kicker is that the revenue is not even earmarked for investment in Eastrop Park but is a general contribution to the borough grounds maintenance budget.  

The good news here is that Eastrop Park costs just £70,000 per year to run.  That is an absolute bargain for a park of its size and quality.  Hats off to the (only two?) grounds-people that clearly work very hard to maintain the park. 

If Basingstoke parks are so cheap to run, why do we need to pay for parking to subsidise their costs?  Instead, we want more great parks with similarly low annual running costs, please.

Parks will always cost money to run but are already paid for by residents’ council tax, or are they?   When a developer builds houses in a ward like Norden (where I live), and they cannot provide enough green space, they instead pay the council money towards grounds maintenance elsewhere in the borough. 

We have all seen the state of our roadsides, paths and verges this year. So is this money really being reinvested like it should and like developers have been led to believe?

Perhaps it will all be explained in the grand ‘vision for the future of Eastrop Park’ in the forthcoming East of Basingstoke Natural Environment Management Plan. 

One suspects that this vision comprises a toxic combination of parking charges and locked gates that close before dusk (eg - Crabtree Plantation and Lime Pits), further restricting access to our green spaces. 

This is contrary to what we should be doing post-pandemic, which is encouraging people outside to exercise and soak up the mental health and wellbeing benefits of green space. 

This plan is for the east – or does Cllr Eachus who represents Kempshott and Buckskin plan to give the green light to similar parking charges closer to home in our proposed new country park at Manydown?

Why wasn’t the council more open and honest with residents from the start?  How many similar parking schemes have been pushed through with such lip-service consultation by the council? 

I have yet to meet a resident that thinks parking charges at parks are a good idea.  Is it too late for this flawed decision at Eastrop Park to be overturned? 

Paul Basham, Cromwell Road