THURROCK Council may start charging to park in recreation grounds across the borough, in a move which could bring in £160,000 a year in fees.

The council is considering installing pay and display machines in nine free car parks across four recreation parks.

If agreed by councillors, charges from £1 for an hour up to £6.50 for six hours will be introduced.

Car parks being eyed up for the scheme include South Ockendon Recreational Centre, Tamarisk Road Car Park, South Ockendon and Coalhouse Fort Car Park, Tilbury.

Six car parks at Langdon Hills Country Park are also included.

These are in High Road, Old Church Hill, Westley Heights, Beacon Field Car Park, Dry Street and One Tree Hill upper and lower car parks.

A report to councillors on the planning, transport, regeneration overview and scrutiny committee said some of the free car parks had not been kept up to standard because of the lack of income from them.

Remedial work totalling more than £111,000 will have to be carried to repair damaged surfaces on these car parks.

It will also cost the council £38,700 to install pay and display machines but after the initial outlay the scheme will bring in £159,964 for the council.

The council is also proposing to introduce an annual country park pass with a three hour maximum stay. This is in support of regular walkers and dog walkers to the country parks, who will pay £75 for the pass.

The pass will be available for Coalhouse Fort, South Ockendon Recreation Park and Langdon Hills Country Park The report said: “The introduction of parking charges at the four proposed sites, not only improves the quality and safety of the sites, but provides a revenue stream for the service. It is important to note that income from parking charges and parking enforcement is ring-fenced.

“This means that the income generated is required to be re-invested in either parking enforcement or maintenance. Implementing these schemes will also ensure the car parks receive regular enforcement patrols which will deter and reduce crime and antisocial behaviour at these locations and encourage residents to make use of the facilities.”

Councillors debated the plan on Tuesday, after the Gazette went to print.