Following Surrey County Council’s decision to introduce parking charges to car parks in its countryside estate, it has been widely reported that the sites have been almost empty.
Parking charges of £1.30 per hour, with a maximum charge of £5 per day, were introduced in the County Council’s car parks in the summer despite significant opposition – previously there was no charge for visiting places like Newlands Corner and Norbury Park.
Following the introduction of the parking charges, the car parks – unsurprisingly – have been virtually empty. Instead, as predicted, local people who enjoy walking in the countryside, including those who exercise their dogs, are parking for free on nearby roads or in other car parks which do not have a charge.
This makes a mockery of the County Council’s stated aim to increase income which could be put towards the cost of maintaining or improving the Council’s Countryside Estate.
My Lib Dem colleagues and I think these car parking charges have backfired, they have annoyed a lot of people and are not raising the money the Conservative Council had hoped for. The County Council is discouraging rather than encouraging the use of its car parks and is not raising additional funding to maintain the Countryside Estate.