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Hillingdon Council criticised for paying over £200k a year for upkeep of Essex regional park

The council are legally obliged to contribute to funding the park almost 40 miles away from Uxbridge

Hillingdon Council has been criticised for paying over £200,000 a year to maintain a regional park 40 miles away in Essex while cutting funding to children's centres and disabled school children's bus services.

Lee Valley Regional Park is funded by contributions from all London borough councils and neighbouring county councils, including a contribution of £255,000 from Hillingdon over the next year.

UKIP have questioned why Hillingdon Council have not campaigned to overturn the legislation that makes them pay this money as two children's centres will be closing in the borough at the end of March.

(Image: Getty Images Europe)

Chairman of UKIP Hillingdon, Cliff Dixon, said: “It's beggars belief that whilst cutting services to local residents, Hillingdon Council are sending taxpayers money to one of the most wealthy parts of the east of England, made famous by the reality TV show 'The Only Way is Essex'.

“Whilst I am in favour of upkeep of green spaces for the public good, why are Hillingdon taxpayers doing so for areas away from our borough and perfectly capable of funding such incentives for themselves?

Council has 'sold out the future of our local children', MP claims, as centres due to shut at end of the month

“I understand that the money has been mandated by an old Act of Parliament, but why have Hillingdon Council not brought this up and why were the three Hillingdon MPs who can overturn this legislation in the house saying nothing?"

Mr Dixon added: “Once again, Hillingdon taxpayers are not getting value for money whilst our council sit on their hands and wave such spending through.”

The arrangement between the Lee Valley Regional Park and the London councils is set out in the Lee Valley Regional Park Act 1966, which says that the authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide facilities for sports, recreation, leisure, entertainment and nature conservation.

Lee Valley Regional Park is a 26-mile long, 10,000 acre park that is protected by an act of Parliament and acts as a "green lung" for London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

The authority also runs three venues used in the London 2012 Olympics - the white water centre, the velodrome and the hockey and tennis centre.

In 2017/18 Hillingdon Council will pay £255,315 to the park following a payment of £273,625 in 2016/17.

The council is in the process of cutting its children's centre budget by 41% by 2020, from £3.2million to £1.9million.

What are your thoughts on the changes?

Children's centres in Northwood and Hayes will be closing at the end of the month despite a passionate campaign opposing the changes by Hillingdon parents.

Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ray Puddifoot said: “I would not trust UKIP with the finances of a whelk stall, let alone a London borough, least of all a borough as financially efficient as Hillingdon.”

Getwestlondon has approached MPs Nick Hurd, Boris Johnson and John McDonnell for comment, as well as the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

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