By Councillor Diane Neil Mills, Merton Council and Wandle Valley Regional Park Board Member; (Conservative, Abbey ward)

I fully support the Wimbledon Guardian’s campaign against the unfair levy on Merton Council taxpayers to pay for the Lee Valley Regional Park in north London.

Conservative councillors have long been lobbying for an end to this anomaly and see these valuable funds spent on the Wandle Valley Regional Park here in Merton instead.

The previous Conservative administration raised this on several occasions, with both the previous and current Mayor of London, as well as with other London boroughs.

Together with our Local Assembly Member, Richard Tracey, and Wimbledon MP, Stephen Hammond, we have been lobbying hard for the necessary change in parliamentary legislation to rectify the situation.

I’m therefore delighted that Boris Johnson is publicly backing the campaign.

Although it costs us all well over £200,000 every year, the Lee Valley Regional Park provides very few benefits for the vast majority of Merton residents.

Indeed, in 2009, fewer than 0.2 per cent of the annual visitors to the park came from our borough.

By contrast, the Wandle Valley runs right through Merton, stretching from Wimbledon Park to Mitcham.

It’s only right therefore that hard pressed taxpayers’ money should be invested closer to home to help release the huge environmental and regeneration potential it holds for the borough and its residents.

That’s why local Conservatives are also campaigning to get the pylons that blight the area removed and to make the most of the rich heritage of the Merton Priory site.

We are ambitious for our park and will do everything possible to have our aspirations fulfilled.

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