CAR PARK users have claimed “unfair” charge increases will be “disastrous” for the local economy and reduce visitors to the area.

After users realised the cost of a monthly season ticket for Charteris Road car park near Woodford Station had increased by 22 per cent, they were “outraged” to find charges elsewhere in Redbridge had gone down.

Last week 25-year-old Joel Herga quizzed councillors on why a monthly Charteris Road season ticket has increased from £64 to £78 a month, while the cost of parking in several places in Ilford has dropped.

Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for environment and sustainability Cllr John Howard said he would not look into reversing the price increases in Woodford, because they were part of “rationalised changes made across the borough”.

He said: “We are trying to achieve 88 per cent occupancy for all our car parks to free up space and increase availability.

“Charteris Road isn’t the proper station car park for Woodford, commuters have the choice of the one next door too.

“I don’t think increasing charges at Charteris Road is an unfair suggestion, considering that prices have been rationalised across the borough.”

Mr Herga, of Horn Lane, Woodford Green, described Cllr Howard’s response as “disappointing to say the least”.

He said: “I asked him directly whether he would look into trying to decrease charges for people who use the car park at Charteris Road and he just said no.

“This is unfair and it will affect a huge number of residents.

“A lot of people won’t realise this has happened until they see their monthly bill, so I want to raise awareness of the issue so we can get something done about it.”

Natasha Ahmed, of Grove Hill, South Woodford, echoed Mr Herga’s concerns, calling the price increases an “attack on the daily lives of the people of Woodford”.

The 24-year-old said: “I am hugely worried about this – I can’t afford to use the station car park next door, it’s £96 a month.

“This won’t just affect people in Woodford Green, it matters to people in South Woodford and even parts of Essex who come here to use the local facilities and the tube.

“Local businesses will be affected – it could be disastrous for the local economy, as it will undoubtedly put people off coming to the area."

Conservative Cllr for Church End Emma Best said the decision to increase prices at Charteris Road and decrease them in Ilford is “clear discrimination against people living in our side of the borough”.

She said: “The assumption is that if you live in Woodford you can afford it, but that’s simply not true.

“In Woodford we have one the most deprived housing estates in the borough.”

Her colleague Cllr Tom McLaren said he is weary of how much pressure Redbridge is under to find space for new houses and that the price increases could be the start of trying to sell the site of to developers.

A Redbridge Council spokesman said there are currently “no plans to sell Charteris Road car park”.

He added: “The changes have not been made dependent on what area they are in but the result of tariff band usage, occupancy level, demand and availability.

“Hawkey Hall car park and Derby Road car park in Woodford Green have had reductions, while all three surface car parks in Ilford have increased.”