Your Local Guardian’s call for an end to the unfair Lee Valley Tax has gathered new momentum in the wake of the Olympics.

Taxpayers have handed over millions of pounds to fund the Lee Valley Regional Park in north London for the last 46 years, now the No To Lee Valley Tax campaign to end the levy has cross-party support.

The MPs have reiterated their support of the campaign, launched last year, along with our sister News Shopper titles in south East London - as the taxpayer-funded park prepares to open millions of pounds-worth of Olympic facilities to the public later this year.

The Lee Valley Park is a 26-mile area in north London, Hertfordshire and Essex.

Since it was established in 1966 it has been funded through a levy on London boroughs, Hertfordshire and Essex.

Last year it received £11.7m from local authorities, £370,774 of which came from the pockets of Croydon taxpayers, £212,852 from Sutton, £368,506 from Wandsworth, £214,792 from Merton and £181,351 from Kingston.

And that sum is to go up by more than 3 per cent next year as the levy rises with inflation.

Our reporter, Chris Baynes, asks residents in Sutton town centre if they have heard of the Lee Valley Regional Park

On top of this, the park has inherited £170m of taxpayer-funded Olympic venues following last years Games, including the white water rafting facility, a cycling centre and tennis and hockey venues.

The No to Lee Valley Tax campaign argues that the time has come for South London taxpayers to stop funding a park they hardly use and put the money towards something that will benefit communities – like the Wandle Valley Regional Park which runs along the River Wandle through Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Wandsworth.

Now the campaign has backing from Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs across south London, as well as councils and London Assembly members who are all pushing for the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority to adopt a financial model that raises income from visitors.

Richard Ottaway, Croydon South MP, said: “I have already pressed for a law change and I will continue to do so.

“I don’t imagine the people of Croydon even know the council is paying this.”

Steve Reed, Croydon North MP, said: “I don’t think it is fair on the people of Croydon to have to pay for a facility on the far edge of north London that hardly anyone from Croydon ever uses.

“I’d like to see the money brought back to Croydon so that it can be spent on local priorities.”

Councillor Mike Fisher, leader of Croydon Council, said: “It is ridiculous we have a park in the north-east of London and in Hertfordshire that we are required as a borough to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on maintaining. This precept has had its time; it needs to go.”

Steve O’Connell, London Assembly member for Sutton and Croydon, said it was “bonkers”  taxpayers locally should be paying a bill towards a facility no-one will use.

He said: ““It is doubly galling that this is going on at a time when we are developing a regional park of our own in Wandle Valley.

“The Lee Valley Tax is an antiquated piece of legislation that might have made sense 50 years ago, but is crackers now.”

Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam Paul Burstow said: “We should call this what it really is – a tax on councils to pay for a park miles away.

“Strong, vibrant parks are very important to all of us, and are part of the Olympic legacy.
“Surely then, our taxes should go towards a park that we can all enjoy?”

Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake said: “I welcome the Sutton Guardian’s campaign.

“Sutton will soon be developing its own regional park – the Wandle Valley park – and to make it a real success, Sutton needs to invest its cash in Wandle Valley.”

Councillor Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “Very few of your readers will have heard of the Lee Valley Regional Park. Even fewer will have ever been there.

“We are being forced to pay this unbelievably generous subsidy at a time when our budget is under unprecedented pressure and difficult decisions are having to be taken about spending.”

Battersea MP Jane Ellison said: “It is not fair to ask the residents of Battersea to subsidise a park that so few of them use, not least because it is so far away.

“With the extra investment Lee Valley has enjoyed from the Olympics and the revenue that will come from it, it is even clearer that the levy is an anachronism and now is the time to end it.”

Sadiq Khan, Tooting MP and Shadow Justice Minister, said: “The No to Lee Valley Tax campaign argues that our boroughs have already contributed enough to regenerating green spaces that are not local to residents and, as a result, are barely visited by them.

“In such difficult economic times it is important that local people benefit from the money that they put into their local authority and, for this reason, as the MP for Tooting, I support this campaign.”

Justine Greening, Putney MP and Minister for International Development, said: “Legislation was passed in 1966, that required all London local authorities to contribute funding to the Lee Valley Regional Park.

“However, I think our local taxpayers have now paid enough towards this levy and it is time to review how funding can be better met by the organisations and communities who use the park today.”

Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, said: “Although some people might not think this is a huge sum, and part of it is for the Olympic legacy, at a time when the Government is cutting millions from local budgets I would much rather see Mitcham and Morden residents’ taxes spent on parks here than in Lee Valley.

“I want the Government to listen and let us spend our money on, say, a park along the River Wandle, rather than continue to force us to spend it in north London.”

Councillor Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council, said: “I learned that in one year only eight Merton residents visited Lee Valley.

“We are shelling out lots of our council tax paying for somewhere where originally it was a good cause but it’s now painfully obvious they can get by without our money.

“We have our own priorities. I would be delighted to sign up and be part of a campaign.

“I also have the added advantage of being chairman of the London Partnerships.

“Lee Valley precept was envisaged by Parliament so it’s Parliament who can re-engineer it.”

To register your objection to the levy with the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, email its chairman at