Plans that could see funding cut for the upkeep of three parks across Slough have been challenged by the councillors responsible for managing them.

Slough Borough Council is looking into how it will carry on funding Salt Hill Park playing fields as their maintenance costs far outweigh their income.

Government-appointed commissioners have told the council it needs to scale back its subsidies to trusts that manage three of its parks. But council officers say that if it stopped funding Salt Hill playing fields, they could not be kept ‘visually pleasing, clean and safe'.

Salt Hill playing fields are run by a charitable trust set up and managed by the council. Commissioners say the trust should be able to recover its full costs – meaning it shouldn’t need funding from the council.

But the playing fields cost an estimated £56,588 a year to maintain – and only bring in an income of £16,425.

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Councillors on the trustee committee discussed the park’s funding at a meeting on Thursday, May 9. Councillor Zaffar Ajaib asked why the park’s income was so low given that it rents two properties on site to the Kashmiri Karahi restaurant and the Slough Refugee Centre.

He said: “Being a large area I’m quite surprised that the revenue is only £16,000. It has got some other assets around the park. I’m wondering why the revenue is so low.”

Alison Hibbert, the council’s group manager of environmental services, said both properties were on ‘low rental’ and ‘long lease’ contracts. She said the council was looking at whether there are break clauses in those contracts that might allow it to increase rent.

It comes after the council was criticised for charging Kashmiri Kahari restaurant just £7,700 a year in 2018.

She also said the council is looking into hiring the park out for more events as another way to increase its income. Councillors were promised a more detailed report later this summer.

Meanwhile, the council is also considering cutting its funding for the trusts that run Langley War Memorial Field and Baylis War Memorial Garden.

Currently both are maintained using money paid to the council by property developers as part of planning permission agreements that affect the grounds. But council officers want the parks to become self-sufficient – generating their own income – once that money runs out.

Councillors on the committee agreed that both memorial grounds should be ‘maintained to the current standard’ until the developers’ funds run out. And they also agreed that the council should investigate ways to increase their income so that the trusts can be self-sufficient.

Alison Hibbert said officers believed both parks could become self-sufficient. But committee chair councillor Siobhan Dauti warned against ‘setting the trusts adrift’ until councillors had seen more detailed accounts.

She said: “I don’t think that we should set the trusts adrift until we’ve seen the accounts – until we’ve seen where we can improve the income of the trusts to help them maintain before we set them adrift.”