CHARITIES will be asked to pay to use a Maldon park for events if new proposals get the green light.

Maldon District Council wants to set a standard hire rate for all events held in Promenade Park.

Charities and some other groups are currently given a concession and allowed to use the land for free.

Under new proposals any event held by a charity with more than a 100 people attending would be charged at the same starting point as other events.

Those with fewer visitors will be able to negotiate a discount.

As part of the plans the council also wants to put the word 'minimum' before all fees for land and equipment hire.

A report by director of service delivery Richard Holmes said: “It has become apparent that these fees and charges are not flexible enough to cover the type and scale of events held on the council’s land at Promenade Park and as a result the council is not receiving appropriate remuneration for its use.

“Promenade Park has increasingly seen a number of popular and diverse events being held during the course of a year.

“Some of the events attract large public attendance including, but not exclusively, the Maldon Mud Race, fun fairs and circuses, the Maldon Motor Show and the recent Smoke and Fire Food Festival.

“For events of this nature (excluding funfairs and circuses) the minimum charge the council can levy is £222 as set within the agreed fees and charges.

“Clearly this specific charge as an example does not reflect the commercial income operators are generating through the use of the council’s land and the council is not receiving a proportionate amount from the hirer.”

Mr Holmes said the commercial nature of the event would be taken into consideration but the council needed to achieve “fair income and cost recovery”.

He said: “The council is unable to continue absorb the charges incurred in facilitating and checking events in Promenade Park, so setting an appropriate land hire rate for all users is a fairer way of addressing this.

"Those wishing to use the park for commercial activity will be asked to pay a realistic charge for its use, proportionate to the nature and scale of the event.

"However, we acknowledge that for registered charities and community groups a charge will be harder to cover, so they will be able to negotiate a discount on the fee where there are less than 100 people attending.”

Councillors will decide whether to agree the changes at a meeting tonight.