Parking charges ‘would hurt youth sport in the city’

DISAPPOINTED ''Fleur De Lys U11's Victory football team pictured with parents in the car park at King George V playing fields. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132514-789)
DISAPPOINTED ''Fleur De Lys U11's Victory football team pictured with parents in the car park at King George V playing fields. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132514-789)

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USERS of a playing field that could have its free parking taken away have rallied together and asked the council to reconsider its plans.

Players and parents of Fleur De Lys Youth FC are calling on Portsmouth City Councillor Jason Fazackarley to listen to their worries and not implement parking charges.

As revealed in The News, the council could bring in parking charges at playing fields and streets in Portsmouth.

These include King George V Playing Fields, in Cosham, Farlington Playing Fields, off Eastern Road, Portland Street, in Southsea, and High Street, in Old Portsmouth.

Cllr Fazackarley has said he will consider the options and look at all aspects before deciding on the introduction of pay-and-display charges throughout the city.

But Fleur De Lys Youth FC, who use the pitches at King George V, have warned that opting for the charges could have a negative impact on youth sport in the city and discourage parents from letting their children take part.

Sharon Chipperfield-Harrison, of Copnor Road, Portsmouth, takes her son Kenton to football at the playing fields each week.

She said: ‘We love supporting our young lads and, at a time when children are being encouraged to be more active, I feel this will be a deciding factor for some parents to allow their children to play football.

‘There are costs involved in playing and parking fees just might put them off.’

Alfred and Andrew Mathew both play for Fleur De Lys under-11s. Their father Sajimon of Colwell Road, Cosham, said: ‘It will definitely affect the community here. On Saturday mornings there is a big crowd, irrespective of the rain. But parking charges will definitely put people off.’

Lesley Stace’s 10-year-old son Charlie MacKenzie has been playing at the fields with Fleur De Lys for more than a year.

‘The costs add up but if it keeps him fit and out of trouble I don’t mind,’ said Miss Stace. ‘But if parents have to find change for parking every time they come here it might put some off.’

But Cllr Fazackarley, who will make the ultimate decision, has said it is still only a proposal.

He said: ‘Every year, the officers of every department have to put forward a budget plan that will balance the books for their department.

‘That could be increasing council tax, cutting back on services or putting in more parking charges.

‘But their proposal is a recommendation – not a definitive decision.

‘A decision has not been made yet but I’m not indifferent. I understand how it would affect residents because it affects me, too.

‘There are a lot of things I need to consider including the advice from the officers but also the views of people who are against it.

‘I can either accept all the officer recommendations, kick out some or reject the whole lot.

‘But this is not the council just trying to make money. We have to consider changes and since I have been a councillor we have always had to make cuts.

‘We are getting less money from the government so cuts and increased prices are going to happen.’

The details of the potential parking charges will not be decided until the cabinet meeting on September 26.

But they could follow the charges in surrounding streets and areas.