Car park charges provoke anger
A CONTROVERSIAL bid to introduce car parking charges at a Suffolk beauty spot could spell the end of free days out, it was revealed today.Mid Suffolk district council is considering introducing a pay-and-display system at Needham Lake.
A CONTROVERSIAL bid to introduce car parking charges at a Suffolk beauty spot could spell the end of free days out, it was revealed today.
Mid Suffolk district council is considering introducing a pay-and-display system at Needham Lake.
The countryside lake and nature reserve area – popular with walkers, cyclists, fisherman and picnickers – currently provides free parking for approximately 100 cars.
It is planned to use income from pay-and-display machines to improve and manage the site, despite fears it will reduce visitor numbers and start a wave of complaints.
Council officers have recommended the changes are introduced as soon as possible – ensuring they are in place in time for the influx of visitors in the summer months.
The plans include charging vehicles which park between 8am and 8pm. Fees of 50p for less than two hours and £1 for more than two hours have been suggested.
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Setting up the scheme would cost an estimated £29,840 and annual costs would be in the region of £19,464.
Only 38 per cent of current visitors (45,000 cars) are needed for the scheme to break even.
Richard Thurlow, countryside, arts and tourism manager, said: "Visitor numbers are expected to fall slightly but are likely to recover within a few weeks.
"Use will be monitored, clear signs will be installed to explain why the changes are needed and that the income will be used to support the management of the site.
"While we cannot accurately anticipate how many people will be discouraged from visiting and how many people will refuse to pay the charges, it can be assumed that visitor numbers and the proportion of those prepared to pay will settle down once charging becomes accepted.
"The public are more likely to accept the scheme if the charges are set as a moderate level.
It brings real improvement and stability to the countryside service."
Councillors are discussing the plans at a meeting of its executive committee on Tuesday.
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