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Weddings in Brentwood to cost FOUR TIMES as much?

August 29, 2013 12:05 PM
By Matt Cannon in Brentwood Gazette

COUPLES could have to pay four times as much to get married in their home town as cost-cutting plans to replace Brentwood Register Office take shape.

Tying the knot at the offices in Seven Arches Road near picture-perfect Shenfield Common currently costs as little as £49, but an email, seen by the Gazette, suggests plans are in place to move the registration service to a private provider which could mean couples face paying £200 for their ceremony.

While current bookings are expected to be honoured, the changes could be completed within the next 18 months.

Stewart and Thalia Beckwith, of Laindon Road, Billericay, were married at the venue in May last year.

"It would be a great shame to close it," Mr Beckwith said. "Where it's situated is a very pretty area with the pond and common so close by.

"A Holiday Inn, for example, doesn't have the same feeling as the register office. At the moment, people have a more affordable option but at a private place they may not be given that - it's something the management would need to take into account.

Marian Ely, of Brentwood Place, married her husband Mike at the current location back in 1986. She said: "I think anything that goes from Brentwood is a shame. We can't lose everything in the area. It's a very nice location here."

Graham and Debbie Martin, of Shenfield Crescent, also exchanged vows in Severn Arches Road.

Mrs Martin said: "It's another thing that could leave the area but it's affordable and your wedding pictures are beautiful."

Essex County Council says it is committed to continue to provide registration services to the borough despite plans to save £215 million by 2017.

Yet Brentwood resident Katie Scotts, 26, said she was concerned that moving the popular service could affect local trade. "I imagine it will have an impact because I see a lot of people getting married then wandering into town," she warned.

Proposals to provide the service in the council chamber have been dismissed, while it has been suggested that births and deaths could be registered from Brentwood Library in New Road.

Cllr David Kendall, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

County Cllr David Kendall

County councillor David Kendall admitted he would be "worried" for couples who may be struggling with the costs of marriage already.

"I would be very concerned if Brentwood was to lose its register office and I will do all I can to try and save it," he said. "Our borough has lost too many things already - enough is enough.

"Highways transferred to Harlow, parking is now controlled by Chelmsford, the information centre in the High Street closed, what next?

"We have always been told that the Brentwood Register Office was one of the most popular in Essex so I can see no reason to close it."

The Gazette asked Essex County Council to comment but no response had been received as we went to press.