“After having read about St Stephen’s School’s concerns about their bill for use of Moormead in the press, the Council started a review, in order to find an amicable agreement.

To date we have met with the contractors who manage sports bookings — Veolia and reviewed the current prices and use of Moormead by St Stephens and all other schools who use pitches in other parks in a similar way.

We have checked and the rates being applied for the use booked by the school are correct, using the rates set annually by the Council, since St Stephen’s do make a lot of use of the site. The rates have not increased (except by 2.5% in line with inflation) but the school is now booking and being charged for all formal use of the park.

“Naturally, we want to encourage full use of the Park by the school and we have now made direct contact with the school. We have checked their actual use, the rates being charged and are meeting to discuss the grounds maintenance of the site next week. They are aware that we are taking the situation seriously and are sympathetic.

Since there are several schools which do not have their own pitches, we cannot treat St Stephen’s in isolation. We have therefore undertaken a review of all schools charges for pitches.

The current rates are set by the Cabinet Member and we will therefore need formal authority to change them. We will be presenting a paper to the Cabinet Member next week for his decision recommending that we identify schools with no playing pitches and ‘partner them’ with a nearby park which they use. We will set a ceiling price for sensible curriculum use which the school is able to afford. We hope that we can then work together with these schools to improve the parks they use for the benefit of everyone.

For now any invoices outstanding have been put on hold."

— from Eve Risbridger, Head of Parks and Open Spaces, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames