Monday, December 7, 2009

Another subsidy for a Church?

On the Town Council draft budget for 2010/11 there is a sentence which says:
"There is no Provision in this budget for public toilets or the Eaton Socon Car Park"

So the Town Council is thinking about doing something to the "Car Park" outside St Mary's Church, Eaton Socon! But why?

The land is owned by SNTC and is part of the Eaton Socon Village Green. As council taxpayers we pay for the upkeep of this piece of land. The church has a right of way from the public highway to the entrance gate of the church lands. But there is no right to park cars on this land. So the only use of this land is as public open space.

The church and church members seem to think otherwise. On their Facebook wall page they say the following:
"Unfortunately the council think the pot holesin our car park have become a heath and safty issue and have asked us to close it."

"Please be aware that the Town Council have today, Wednesday, closed the church car park "until further notice". This is in response to a written complaint on health and safety grounds over the condition of the surface. The issue will be discussed at a Town Council meeting next week when perhaps a less draconian option may emerge. Meanwhile, we have no car park."

Hold on there. This is public land the church members are claiming as "their car park". And they seem to expect the Town Council has to maintain this car park for their exclusive use.

And so does at least one Town Councillor in this Hunts Post article. In it Cllr Ursell is quoted as saying:

"I think it is wrong that the church should be put to inconvenience because we (SNTC) have failed to maintain a car park. We should get the access reopened immediately and carry out maintenance work on the car park as soon as possible. This is an emergency and we must not delay." 

But this website says something different. What it says is the Church has a vehicular right of way and should pay to maintain the land it uses. It further tells me that car parking is not a right! So it is up to the church to pay for the upkeep of the car park and vehicular right of way! So why is the Town Council yet again subsidising a church? I don't know but I will ask this question in the future.

The church must pay for the maintenance of the car park and right of way. Not the Town Council!

Websites and documents
St Mary's Church
St Mary's Church Facebook page
Copy of Facebook page
Boundary Problems Website

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