Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Cost of parking at Essex country parks set to increase

PARKING charges in Essex Country Parks are set to increase by up to 12 per cent at the same time as many elderly users will no longer be eligible for cheaper ticketing costs reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

And while standard charges for annual explorer passes are being frozen for most people the annual card for the elderly is going up by more than 10 per cent at the same time the age of eligibility increases.

Photo courtesy of Visit Essex

It means the standard pass for one car will stay the same at £85. But the annual cost of an explorer pass for old people will go from £57 to £63.

But the age of eligibility for that price will increase from 60 to 66.

A new £57 Explorer Pass has also been introduced this year to support Blue Badge holders.

The price for one hour parking is set to go from £2.50 to £2.80 at each of Essex County Council’s seven country parks.

The cost of up to two hours parking is set to go from 3.80 to £4 and up to four hours will go from £5.10 to £5.20. All day parking is to be frozen at 6.30.

The new costs and plans to increase the age of eligibility for age old age passes have been criticised not lease because of the lack of bus services to parks.

Essex County Council operates parks at Belhus Woods, Cudmore Grove, Danbury, Great Notley, Hadleigh, Thorndon and South Weald.

Brentwood borough councillor David Kendall said: “For them to align the charge for older people with bus passes is ridiculous because there is no bus access to the country parks in Brentwood.

“You can’t get to the one in Thorndon or South Weald by bus. I can’t understand the logic on that. Its one of the beefs of the bus and rail uses ass that people can get to the parks unless by car.

“I have concerns about the overall charges. In my view they should be freezing the charges and encouraging more people to go to the country parks and providing more accessibility to the country parks – particularly the elderly.”

Essex County Council said the proposed fees for 2024/25 have been prepared with an aim of generating additional income to contain inflationary pressures across the country parks service.

The increases are expected to generate an additional £60,000 for the country parks service which has a budgeted net cost of £1,125,000 in 2023/24.

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “While hourly parking charges at the Essex Country Parks have increased to help offset high inflation, day parking charges have stayed the same to encourage longer stays.

“Our standard Explorer Pass annual parking permit will also not increase from £85. However, following years of minor increases, the over-60s permit will now apply to those aged 66 and above and cost £63, which will support the upkeep of our country parks and protection of the wildlife within. This aligns with the age of older bus pass holders and the national pension age.

“To support Blue Badge holders, our £57 Explorer Pass has also been held with a zero per cent increase this year.”

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