St Albans golfers are teed off by hike in car parking fees

Members of the Abbey View Golf Course are unhappy with changes to the car parking charges at Westmin

Members of the Abbey View Golf Course are unhappy with changes to the car parking charges at Westminster Lodge. - Credit: Archant

Golfers in St Albans have criticised an “unfair” increase in car park fees which will cost members hundreds of pounds a year, and threatens a long-running group’s future.

With most of its members aged from their 60s to their 80s, and one over 90 years old, the Abbey View Golf Society was set up in 1995 to encourage exercise for older people.

But St Albans district council has upset the group by announcing increases to parking fees at Westminster Lodge, starting April 1.

The society’s 120 members are based at Verulamium Park’s nine-hole Abbey View Golf Course, and park at Westminster Lodge for free for three hours.

Yet the council has slashed the free parking to just two hours, and will now charge £2 for three hours.

John Farmer, the society’s secretary, said: “The reduction to two hours threatens the future of the golf course and the society.

“It disproportionately affects our members. On most club mornings it is not possible to change in the clubhouse, pay your green fees, queue on the first tee and play your round in under two hours. Therefore it will cost our members £2 to park every day they play.”

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John said golfers playing seven days a week would have to pay £560 in parking fees annually: “For many of our pensioned members on fixed incomes, this is an impossible amount of money and they have indicated they will have to stop playing.

“The society contributes several thousand pounds per annum to the golf course in green fees and also hires a room in the changing complex for nine hours a week for which we pay £468, without which the golf course could become insolvent.

“In an age of increasing obesity why would anyone wish to decrease the ability of elderly people already struggling on a pension to keep fit or deny them the social friendship that the society offers them?”

The council’s portfolio holder for community engagement Cllr Beric Read said he would visit the society to discuss the group’s concerns. But he said the increase was among a raft of changes in fees to free up more spaces in the city centre, including Westminster Lodge, where the car park was often full.