A proposal to introduce car parking charges at Swindon’s two most popular country parks, to bring income that will help to maintain and protect them for all users, will be considered by Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet on Thursday 16 June.
The plan would affect visitors to Lydiard House and Park and Coate Water Country Park, which between them see thousands of visitors arrive by car each year. The proposal is to charge £2 for up to 2 hours, or £4 all day, to park at Lydiard, and £1 for 2 hours, or £2 all day, to park at Coate.
The car park at Lydiard Park can be seen in the left foreground of the aerial photo above by CartoConsult
Annual season tickets would also be offered, at a cost of £45 for Lydiard, £30 for Coate or £60 for both. Discounts will be available for tickets issued this year due to the implementation of the charges happening part way through the year.
It is estimated that the move could bring in £400,000 in ring-fenced income to spend on the upkeep of the parks each year.
A public consultation carried out between 22nd February and 29th April saw 51% of residents who responded at Lydiard accept the need for charging to maintain the parks, including 9% who saw the move as a good idea. Twenty-three per cent opposed charging.
Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council cabinet member for the Economy, Regeneration and Skills, said: “No proposal to introduce charging for anything is going to be universally popular, but this proposal is necessary to allow us to keep these parks in a condition that visitors rightly expect, at a time when Council finances are becoming more and more stretched.
“It is the norm these days to be charged to park at similar facilities all over the country, and I can reassure visitors that the money raised will be spent on the parks and nowhere else. If the meeting decides to make the decision to introduce the charges we will spend £100,000 on improving the car parks that are at each site.”
The report that is being presented to Cabinet also recognises that there is a risk that some drivers might be tempted to park on surrounding roads, including those in residential areas. This will be monitored, if the charges are introduced, over the coming months. If the problem arises a further report on how this might be tackled will be prepared for consideration by the Cabinet at a future date.
The Cabinet meeting is being held at the Civic Offices at 6.30pm on Thursday 16th June, which is preceded by a Public Open Forum at 6pm.