A FRIENDS group which helps look after Shipley Country Park has raised concerns that new parking charges at the beauty spot could force tourists onto a nearby industrial estate.
But the charitable organisation that raises awareness and performs a number of conservation and heritage tasks at the park believes the parking fee introduced by park owner Derbyshire County Council this week will not affect the amount using the 700-acre site.
Chairman of the Friends of Shipley Country Park Paul Smith, says the group will have to wait and see whether the £1 for two hours and £3 a day charges will mean visitors to the Coppice Side entrance at Marlpool will opt to park on nearby Heanor Gate Industrial Estate for free.
He said: “As a group we did raise some concerns with the county council over the charge.
Coach companies already appear to be using the road to park on, but we have been assured by the county council that this will be properly regulated.
“I think the parking charges are actually reasonable. We would prefer it if there were no charges, but as we understand that money is going to go back into maintaining the park, so we can’t argue with that.”
Treasurer of Shipley Birdwatchers Jennifer Barker, whose group regularly use the park, believes the new charges will not effect their 30-strong membership and says the £3 for a day is ‘worth paying’.
She said: “It will affect us to an extent because we hold a lot of walks and meetings down there at least once a month so it will cost us more money.
Having said that I think everyone will be willing to pay.”
Signs were placed in the six car parks three weeks before charges were introduced to let visitors know about the change. Public notices were also put up in the car park at the end of last year.
A spokeswoman for the county council said: “Like councils across the country, we’re facing financial pressures and we’ve got to save £90 million over the next four years.
“We offer free parking at 30 of our 38 countryside sites. We already had pay and display at two and we’ve introduced it in six others.
“This will help us continue providing countryside services and standardise charges, making them simpler and fairer for all visitors. It’s also brought our car parks into line with fees charged by other local councils and countryside attractions.”
Visitors can buy an annual parking pass for £50, which gives unlimited parking at all countryside sites. Previous to the charges, visitors could leave donations in honesty boxes in the car park. This is the first time a charge has existed at the site, since it opened in 1974 .