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Petition to: Scrap parking charges at our countryside car parks

This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.

We the undersigned petition Surrey County Council to Scrap parking charges at our countryside car parks. More details

Petition update 2 from the council, 28 February 2019

Dear petition signers,

Please find below the Cabinet response to this petition:

"The Countryside Estate includes such sites are Norbury Park, Newlands Corner, Ockham and Wisley, Chobham Common. Shere Woodlands, Sheepleas and Staffhurst Wood.  This range of sites covers around 2,500 hectares of the County and along with the access agreement areas of Puttenham Common, Albury Estate, Friday Street and around Leith Hill, provides open access for the public.  That access is free but the land has to be managed to ensure it is safe for the public to access, provides facilities that promote that access and encourage everyone to make use of those sites for their health and wellbeing.  

In addition over 70% of the Estate is designated for its conservation value. Managing this land effectively has become a challenge even with volunteer groups helping and grants made available for specific projects.  This has led Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust to look at other forms of income that can ensure the countryside is conserved and enhanced for the future.

Free access will be maintained at all our sites, while charging people to park their cars.  That income can then be used to maintain those facilities, provide new facilities and manage the paths around the sites. 

Other organisations have been charging for parking for many years and this brings the SCC Estate into line with those organisations, for example the National Trust, Forestry Commission at Alice Holt, and neighbouring County Councils such as Hampshire and Kent.

We have introduced charges to the busiest car parks with particular attractions for visitors, for example views, café, toilets, popular walking areas. Parking charges apply in 16 car parks while the remaining 15 are free.  In addition car parks on sites specifically established to draw dog walkers away from the Thames Basin Heaths SPA (Special Protection Area) designated for their ground nesting birds, remain free or free for at least the first 2 hours. 

Prior to introducing parking charges a business plan was drawn up making allowances for a drop in numbers in year one, given an expectation that some people would try and avoid paying, and that there would be teething problems with the system. 

Car numbers were initially impacted by vandalism, particularly at Newlands Corner, where, in conjunction with a campaign to encourage people to stay away from the car park, numbers using the car park reduced.  We have also had a number of illegal traveller incursions at Chobham Common. As a consequence the meters has been changed to make it more difficult to abuse and vandalise, unfortunately traveller incursions have continued on Chobham Common.   

Car Parking charges will go live at Salt Box Road and Whitmoor Common in the Spring of 2019.

Despite these challenges vehicle numbers across Surrey with the exception of Norbury Park should exceed the expected figures for the first year.
The counters at the car parks have enabled us to record the actual car visits for October till December 2018, we have then annualised these figures to project a total year figure knowing that numbers in the summer will be higher. Despite this assumption it still shows visits above the anticipated level.

These figures estimate for a full year the following car visits:

81,772 for Ockham and Wisley (only vehicles arriving in the period 07.00 to 21.00), The figure used in the Business Plan was 78,689 (These estimates do not include those people staying for less than 20 minutes)

97,960 for Chobham, the figure used in the Business Plan was 96,787

For Newlands the recorded figures for the three month period, October to December which was 47,197 for Newlands Corner against a Business plan figure for this period of 45,781.

I am pleased that over 600 season tickets have been purchased which is double the number in the business plan and represents good value for residents.
We have reviewed our budgeted costs and have been able to make savings against the original plan.

Any new scheme will have its challenges and initial problems and no one would expect the figures for the first few months to reflect a whole year of operation.
However we expect to achieve the net income budget after the first year of operation and this will be used on the Countryside Estate, to maintain the car parks, provide further information and waymarked trails, improve the surface of paths and make them more accessible and provide clear viewpoints, such as the recent work at Newlands Corner.  It will also contribute in the years ahead to deliver the Council’s 25 year Countryside Estate Strategy that we will launch later this year.

Car Parking charges are just one of a number of funding streams used to protect and improve the countryside, others include income from the Council’s extensive property on the Countryside Estate, income from a number of events including weddings, filming, wood sales, and one off events and activities.

Mr Mike Goodman
Cabinet Member for Environment & Waste
26 February 2019"

Kind regards,

Ben Cullimore
Democratic Services Assistant
Legal & Democratic Services

Democratic Services (Room 122) | Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames | Surrey | KT1 2DN
Tel: 020 8213 2782 | Email: ben.cullimore@surreycc.gov.uk

Petition update 1 from the council, 16 January 2019

Dear Petition Signers,

This petition has reached enough signatures to be considered at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 26 February 2019.

This meeting will be held at 2pm on Tuesday 26 February 2019 in the Ashcombe Suite at County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 2DN.

The lead petitioner may speak for three minutes at the meeting and a response to the petition will be tabled at the meeting and published within the meeting’s minutes.

This is a public meeting so signers can attend to watch the discussion and this meeting is also webcast so signers can watch this live using the following link:
https://surreycc.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

Kind Regards,

Vicky Hibbert
Senior Manager – Governance
Democratic Services
Tel: 020 8541 9229
Email: vicky.hibbert@surreycc.gov.uk

More details from petition creator

We are calling on Surrey County Council to scrap the parking charges which are driving residents away from our countryside.

Since parking charges were introduced at commons across Surrey in July 2018, car parks have been empty as dog walkers and nature lovers stay away.

It has become clear the charges, introduced at a cost of more than £330,000 to the taxpayer, are raising much less than expected and deterring people from enjoying our common land.

To support our case we point to the public car parks at Chobham Common, Norbury Park, Ockham Common, Whitmoor Common, Rodborough Common and Newlands Corner which have been largely empty since the charges were introduced.

The charges are supposed to generate £3 million in revenue over 15 years, or £200,000 per year, but if people are staying away from the car parks because of the charges, the initiative has failed.

The county council should admit this and scrap the charges.

Reinstate free parking.

Give us our countryside back.

Current signatories

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  • Andy Hampshire
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  • Ian Fraser
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  • Ruth Gill
  • Mike Allin
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  • Updated: 17 Jul 2019

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