BOSSES of a cricket club have hit out at the council over plans to increase parking fees.

Belhus Cricket Club has its main ground in North Stifford and uses and maintains South Ockendon Recreation Ground, which is one of the sites where the council plans to impose new parking charges.

Bosses of the club say the car park charges “creates an unfair tax on outdoor sport and lifestyles”.

The council’s plans to impose parking charges at recreation sites first came to light in December and it includes double-digit increases in car parks serving businesses in Grays and South Ockendon, plus new charges for nature spots, such as Coalhouse Fort and South Ockendon Recreational Park.

A statement from the cricket club said: “Belhus Cricket Club has a significant interest in this matter as our second, third and fourth XI teams play at South Ockendon Recreation Ground, and the sports pitches and pavilion there are maintained by the sports clubs themselves, which includes extensive contributions from this club.

“We strongly object to the proposed introduction of car parking charges at Ockendon Recreation Ground and we urge Thurrock Council does not adopt the proposal for this venue for the following reasons.

“Thurrock Council’s proposed car parking charges at the recreational park appears unfair when measured against similar recreation grounds in Thurrock; the recreational park is the only playing field of its type which is earmarked for charges.

“Thurrock Council has shown a lack of consideration given to clubs such as ours who self-maintain the sports pitches and pavilion.

“The council has made an incorrect assumption that car parking regulation would reduce anti-social behaviour.

“Belhus Cricket Club question whether the estimated annual income is far in excess of what the actual maintenance costs are for each of the four venues highlighted for proposed 24 hours and seven days a week car park charges. “There’s uncertainty and a lack of confidence in car parking permit scheme and the club contend that there is now a likelihood of parking vehicle congestion in neighbouring streets.”

Thurrock Council was contacted for comment.