Parking charges coming to Chasewater – and other Staffordshire beauty spots could be next
Parking charges will be introduced at Chasewater next year while the move could be rolled out to other beauty spots in Staffordshire.
Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth chief Mark Winnington approved the move under ‘delegated powers’ and the fees will be implemented at the site from January 1.
Parking will cost £1 an hour or £3 a day, while annual passes costing £36 will be available.
The authority had put up signs last December informing visitors they would have to pay to park their cars from the start of 2017 – but then backed down from the idea.
Councillor Winnington said: “Visitor numbers to our country parks have increased hugely in recent years which is great news. However we have to invest in maintaining and managing these sites for the enjoyment of everyone.
“We already charge at some of our nearby car parks, including Marquis Drive and Milford Common on Cannock Chase, and this is part of our approach to making sure we can properly manage Staffordshire’s countryside estate for years to come.”
The council’s cabinet will discuss the issue of parking at other high profile sites on Wednesday.
A report for the meeting states: “A car parking strategy for all appropriate countryside sites will be developed and implemented to ensure that income generating opportunities are maximised.”
It is the latest part of the council’s countryside estates review which aims to cut £700,000 from its allocated £1.5m annual budget.
The project is now moving towards its second phase with the first phase inviting expressions of interest from organisations looking to manage certain visitor attractions.
The next part of the work will be to review operating models at the sites and draw up a list of potential savings and ways of increasing income.
One option includes exploring the ‘commercial potential’ of the innovation centre at Chasewater as well as finding ways t makemore money fro the visitor centre at Marquis Drive.
Councillor Gill Heath, communities boss, said: “The County Council recognises its country parks and open spaces are one of the jewels in Staffordshire’s crown.
“Ranging from areas of outstanding natural beauty to former railway lines, these spaces contribute to the county’s health and wellbeing, as places where people can relax, exercise, or simply enjoy the natural beauty around them.
“Extensive consultation has produced a range of ideas as to how Staffordshire County Council’s countryside estate could be managed and maintained in the future and over the coming months we are proposing to pursue these so that we are able to find the right long-term solution for everyone’s benefit.”