On January 15 new car parking charges were introduced at Dinton Pastures and California country parks in the Wokingham Borough.
To make the country parks more self-sufficient, in this difficult financial time, the borough council has introduced these new charges, which are similar to neighbouring local authorities and fit the facilities and opportunities provided.
People who use the parks regularly for two hours of less, such as dog walkers or exercisers, will see the smallest change in cost.
The new prices are:
- Weekdays, between October 1 and March 1, from 6am to 10pm - £1.20 per hour (up to a maximum of four hours), £6 for more than four hour
- Weekends - £1.50 per hour (up to a maximum of four hours), £6 for more than four hours
- All day, between March 2 and September 30, 6am and 10pm - £1.50 per hour (up to a maximum of four hours), £6 for more than four hours
- Six month season ticket - £75 (£56 concessions)
- 12 month season ticket - £150 (£112.50 concessions)
For example, two hours would cost £2.40, three hours would cost £3.60 and up to four hours would cost £4.80 on a weekday between October 1 and March 1. During the rest of the year, two hours would cost £3, three hours would cost £4.50 and up to four hours would cost £6.
Cllr Angus Ross, executive member for environment, said: "We've looked very carefully to balance car park charges against the need to make country parks self-financing in the very difficult current financial climate.
"We want to enhance our non-statutory country park facilities for local people, but their long-term maintenance needs ongoing funding and car park charges are the only major income source.
"In these hard financial times council tax cannot stretch to subsidise them. Country parks must be self-financing."
The council has also tried to match different types of users while providing value for money – the daily year-round dog or exercise walker for example, will still pay a similar charge. Information collected on the length of car park stays shows that the average stay is two hours, so most visitors will not experience much of a difference.
"Visitors who are staying longer and using facilities for longer will be paying more," Cllr Ross added.
"These facilities need managing and maintaining. The bird hides, the ever popular play area, the lakes, the woodlands – they all need to be kept to a standard our visitors expect and enjoy, and it is logical and fair that those who are using more of these facilities or for longer should more."
Concessions continue to be available for the annual and six-monthly season tickets which provide even better value for regular daily users.