Country park charges approved by cabinet

NATURE lovers heading to the Hastings Country Park will have to stump up £1 to park despite nearly 2,000 people signing a petition against the charges.

The Hastings Borough Council (HBC) cabinet approved the scheme as part of the overall budget debated on Wednesday.

Carol Ardley, of Shepherds Way, Fairlight, spoke against the charges and said it would be “tragic” to introduce what is “in effect an admission charge” to the country park.

She presented a petition with 1,497 names, 646 of which were Hastings residents. She said that a separate petition of 470 names was almost exclusively made up of local council taxpayers.

People had been “shocked and surprised” by the lack of consultation on the plans she said, and asked why Fairlight Parish Council and Rother District Council (RDC) had not been notified.

Cllr Anne Bird, who represents Ore, said: “We need to have a guarantee any such income would be ring-fenced for the country park and not put into a melting pot.”

But Cllr Jeremy Birch said it would be “unfair” if the country park was immune to the cuts and reiterated its £200,000 annual budget would be under threat if the parking charges - which are expected to bring in about £40,000 a year - are not introduced.

Cllr Phil Scott said RDC should be asked to stump cash as so many Rother residents use the park. The plans will need approval by the full council on Monday week.