Council’s country park climb-down

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WALKERS who hit out at plans to charge people from outside Hastings more to park at a country park than locals have been rewarded by a council u-turn.

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) was widely criticised earlier this year for ignoring a 2,000-name petition and introducing new charges for parking at Hastings Country Park.

And it further angered nature lovers from neighbouring Fairlight by announcing a substantial saving for Hastings residents - with £25 annual tickets available in place of the £1 a day charge.

This deal only applied to people with a Hastings address - despite the fact park goers in Fairlight and other parts of Rother live far nearer than large swathes of the town.

However, in the face of public reaction - spearheaded by the Fairlight Residents Association and local MP Amber Rudd - the authority has climbed down.

HBC leader Jeremy Birch initially justified making the discount available to just Hastings residents by arguing it was their council tax which pays for the park’s upkeep.

And he also invited Rother District Council to stump up some cash if it wanted the discount pass extended to include its residents.

From July 1, though the £25 annual pass will be offered to anyone who wants one - regardless of their postcode.

Ms Rudd, who had been contacted by a host of people from outside the Hastings area but within her constituency boundaries, welcomed the move.

She said: “I am delighted. It is a triumph of common sense.

“The council has listened to the voices of the many campaigners who pointed out the error of its ways.”

Councillor Birch said: “When we introduced them we said there would be a review. That has now taken place and as the scheme has bedded down so well we feel we can now widen the eligibility for season tickets as we have been asked to do.”