Dordon councillor slams county council for 'discriminatory' parking charges at Kingsbury Water Park
By James Smith
20th Jan 2021 | Opinion
A councillor at North Warwickshire Borough Council has criticised Warwickshire County Council for the way they have handled parking charges at Kingsbury Water Park.
Criticisms have been raised over the Broomey Croft area of the water park where temporary parking charges allow only annual parking season ticket holders to park
Cllr Jacky Chambers (Lab, Dordon) Shadow Health Spokesperson at NWBC said: "The only way you can get to this part of the park by car is to pay £48 up front for an annual season ticket. Many people simply cannot afford to do this.
"During the summer months, the council could have installed a card payment machine for occasional visitors - as they have done in the rest of the park - but for some reason they chose not to do so.
"I believe that everyone who pays their council tax and entrance fees should have an equal choice about where they go in the park, but this policy effectively excludes some of the poorest and most vulnerable members in our community."
However, Warwickshire County Council have responded to Cllr Chambers' claims stating: "Whilst the national lockdown is in place, the configuration of the car park at Broomey Croft is temporary.
"Restricting that car park to permit holders for the time being allows us to welcome as many visitors to the park as possible in a safe way during the pandemic. This mode of operation will be reviewed later in the year as the situation progresses.
"Our parking permits provide a discounted option for regular visitors to the park and are very popular with a wide range of visitors as they make regular use of the parks significantly more affordable for our communities.
"The car park at Broomey Croft has continued to see good usage even with the restriction in place."
Broomey Croft, which remains fully accessible, is a much quieter area of the water park, away from the main carparks and footpaths near Mill Pool and the jet bike rental area which receive a large amount of footfall. The southern edge of the water park also forms part of the North Warwickshire Cycleway and as such sees a consistent stream of bicycles passing through.
Cllr Chambers continued: "For anyone in search of peace and tranquillity, who wants to enjoy nature, go to the bird hides, people with mental health problems, for people in wheelchairs, this area is really wonderful – a marked contrast to the busy footpaths and noisy playgrounds at the other end of the park.
"Moreover, the Broomey Croft area has the only spacious modern, well equipped changing places toilet block in the park, which can accommodate the needs of blue badge holders. This toilet must have cost the taxpayer at least £75,000 to install, but is now virtually unused."
WCC responded: "Whilst the parking is restricted at Broomey Croft, the specialist toilet block in that location is fully open for use, and anyone parking in the main car park can still access the whole of the country park via the existing paths."
Cllr Chambers has also intimated that deterring visitors away from the Broomey Croft car park with expensive charges will increase the number of users elsewhere in the park. This she says poses a potential health risk in the current climate.
"By forcing all occasional visitors to congregate in the main park area, the county council may be increasing the risks of Covid transmission. Last Sunday only two out of four of the card payment machines were working and the public toilet block is old fashioned, with narrow entrances."
Cllr Chambers added: "It's time to put an end to this disgraceful discrimination against people who cannot afford an annual pass. The council should immediately install a card payment machine so that all visitors can come to this area - as they did before.
"Councillors must be held to account for the way in which they manage our public parks and asked to justify these restrictive policies."
Again a Warwickshire County Council spokesperson was able to offer an explanation "There are four pay and display card machines in the main car park and whilst they have intermittent faults as any machines do, these are rectified as soon as possible.
"Our rangers, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, are always onsite to support safe visits to the parks and the coronavirus risks have been fully assessed and considered with several adaptations in place, for instance around the toilet facilities.
"However, we continue to ask all visitors to act responsibly, considerately and in compliance with government guidance and legislation when visiting the parks."