MP hits out at ‘unfair’ country park charges

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THE town’s MP has blasted councillors for not allowing residents in neighbouring Fairlight to benefit from new parking concessions at the country park.

Because the village comes under the Rother District Council area, villagers are not entitled to a reduction in parking charges, even though the park is on their doorstep.

The borough council’s scheme to introduce parking charges at the spot, which is popular with walkers and dog owners, was roundly condemned by Fairlight Residents’ Association.

Ms Rudd said: “This is wholly unacceptable, as most country parks make season tickets available to anyone who is interested.

“They do that because it is manifestly unfair to single out some users as more deserving than others and because it makes good commercial sense. The more season tickets we sell the more money we raise for the park.”

Council leader Jeremy Birch has justified only making the discount available to Hastings residents on the basis that it is their council tax that pays for the park’s upkeep.

He invited the MP to ask for a contribution from Rother to extend the pass to Fairlight residents.

Ms Rudd said: “Rother has made it clear that it cannot take on any additional costs, and I understand the council’s position.

“Extending the pass to all applicants would be the right thing to do, and would treat the Fairlight residents fairly. Putting up this sort of distinction is absurdly hostile. We are neighbours and should work together.”

Cllr Birch said: “We took this decision in February within our budget based on the fact that the country park is in Hastings and the town’s residents pay for its upkeep through their council tax.

“With a 50 per cent cut in Government grants it was either impose parking charges or cut back on the park’s maintenance, so we brought in the charges.”