As the final weeks of the London Mayoral campaign loom, Your Local Guardian is relaunching its campaign to end the Lee Valley tax on south west London boroughs.

The Lee Valley Park, set up in 1966, is a 10,000 acre park running through north east London, Essex and Hertfordshire and is the capital's largest park, four times the size of Richmond Park.

Your Local Guardian:

Statistics from 2013 show how visitor numbers affect the value of the park to south west London boroughs.

Since it was created Sutton, Croydon, Merton, Wandsworth, Richmond and Kingston boroughs have all paid an annual levy to the park authority to maintain it.

In 2016/17, Wandsworth Council will pay £359,235.36, Croydon will pay £336,552.84, Kingston will pay £172,414.92, Merton £203,788.80, Richmond £247,862.76 and Sutton £201,623.64.

All the boroughs have had a reduction in their levy compared with the year before.

Your Local Guardian:

Lord Nick True, leader of Richmond Council, has submitted an amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill currently going through Parliament, that would alter the way councils pay money to the authority.

He told the House of Lords: "Looking at some of the typical levies, Bexley’s levy of £230,000 would not cover the authority’s advertising budget and Kingston’s levy would not cover the cost of its chief executive’s pay package. There is no relation between the levy and performance, benefit or usage.

"It is simply a tax - taxation without representation - for many London authorities that pay the lion’s share, have few visitors to the park and no representation on the board, while other districts that pay nothing do."

Your Local Guardian:

Lord True called for the subsidy to be phased out over a potential period of four years, in a way that would safeguard the park. 

His colleague and former leader of Sutton Council Lord Graham Tope said the call was even more important as there are now three regional parks in London and the Wandle Valley park is in need of funding. 

From April 2013: Read where your MP stood on the issue

April 2012: What is the Lee Valley Regional Park?

If accepted, Lord True's amendment would read: "No precept or levy shall be imposed by the Authority or be payable to the Authority under this section unless the council or London Borough concerned has in its annual budget resolutions assented to the imposition of such a precept or levy by the Authority and specifically approved that levy or precept by a majority on a recorded vote."

Your Local Guardian:

Your Local Guardian has contacted the Mayoral candidates for updated comments and views from them on the park tax. 

Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor, said: "It is clear that this levy is now probably outdated.

"We need to come up with a more satisfactory and equitable solution as to how Lee Valley country park is funded."

Your Local Guardian:

Darren Johnson, Green Party AM, who commented on behalf of Sian Beryy, said: "It doesn't make sense to have specific separate taxes like this for individual parks. Large strategic open spaces in London should all be funded in a similar and consistent way across London.

"That goes for the Royal Parks, the Olympic Park and the City Corporation parks, and it applies to the Lee Valley Park too."

Other mayoral candidates including Zac Goldsmith, Peter Whittle and Sadiq Khan have been contacted but have not responded with comment. 

Your Local Guardian:

In a blog written in February last year, Sutton councillor Jayne McCoy, said: "The Lee Valley receives money from every council taxpayer in London as well as the County Councils in Hertfordshire and Essex. By contrast our own Wandle Valley Regional Park in South West London leads a threadbare existence supported by the small allowances that our local boroughs can afford.

"After the Olympics and years of investment this is a beautiful park run by a well resourced Park Authority. Yet few visitors from South West London ever go there. The current Government and London Mayor have been asked to support legislation for change, but have failed to do so. Now in the run up to the national and London Mayoral elections we should demand that change.

"Let us repatriate our annual £1.6m payments and use the money to support a beautiful river park of our own instead."

Sign our petition here.