I WAS absolutely disgusted upon visiting the country park to see that within 15 months the council has doubled the car parking fee.
A 100 per cent increase in such a short space of time is daylight robbery and with no justification for such price increases.
It now cost £2 to park there regardless of how long you want to park. We only wanted a quick walk, 30 minutes at the most but we still had to pay the set fee. If it is charging such extortionate fees then it should be at least on an appropriate sliding scale of time spent.
I find it incredible that when the majority of the original country park was left to the people of Hastings in perpetuity (similar to the foreshore) that it feels able to charge fees to visit open countryside particularly in such a time of austerity.
Through the last decade we have done everything in the countryside profession to encourage people to enjoy the benefits the natural world brings us.
By charging so much for parking, the council is reversing this trend and ensuring that it is only the more affluent that can visit the countryside, for the majority of residents it will now be a special treat to visit even though its everyone’s council tax paying for its upkeep.
It’s not even as though there is good public transport, pretty nonexistent on Sundays and bank holidays.
On a final note, what does the money get spent on? Last summer many of the rights of way paths were impassable so it doesn’t get spent on statutory duties, you are unlikely to see a ranger during your visit there, the events programme at the country park is no longer run by the council and the conservation work is carried out by the goodwill of volunteers; £210, 886 was spent on the country park last year and this excludes the farm and associated countryside stewardship as this is ring-fenced in the annual accounts and pretty much breaks even with income being £43,311.
It cost £20,000 to install the meters and parking charge service and the council only received £14,000 in revenue, which incidentally doesn’t show up in the accounts as an income for the country park, so where does the car parking money go?
We were told it was ring-fenced for the country park but the accounts certainly don’t reflect this.