Nearly 2,800 people responded to the public consultation about the introduction of charging in the car parks on the Ashdown Forest.
The results will be considered by the Board of Conservators on Monday 31st January.
Despite a small majority (54%) disagreeing with the introduction of parking charges, the Board is being asked to vote in favour of introducing the medium tariff band – £2.00 up to one hour, £2.50 up to two hours, £4.00 up to four hours, £6.00 all day, £60-80 annual pass.
As you can see in the following pie-chart, most respondents disagreed strongly (43% strongly to 11% slightly):
65% of respondents took time to make written comments. Out of the 3,795 individual comments, 520 of them directly addressed the question of whether payments for parking should be introduced: 38% rejected the proposal, 27% rejected it claiming Ashdown Forest should be free and open to all, while 34% accepted the proposal. Many respondents expressed concerns that Forest users will avoid paying for parking through a range of behaviours including parking on verges, parking on highways, parking on Forest roads and tracks and parking in local villages.
The vast majority felt the proposed rates were too high. However 70% of respondents, did feel that Ashdown Forest needed more funding, and suggestions for other funding streams were made. Many encouraging voluntary donations, but nearly one in ten argued that Ashdown Forest should be funded by central or local government.
As well as asking about the parking charge proposal, the survey also asked about what people do on the Forest, how many years they have visited the Forest and how long they generally stay. There was also a question about whether the frequency of their visits had changed during the pandemic.
The full results of the public consultation, and the recommendations to be considered by the Board, can be found on the Conservator’s website: www.ashdownforest.org.
The meeting takes place at 2pm on Monday 31st January at Uckfield Civic Centre. Members of the public are welcome to attend, but space is limited to 250 people. Anyone wishing to ask a question has to submit it in advance. You should submit your question by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on Thursday 27th January.
Guess that will be myself and my family that will no longer visiting the forest. I wander how the rest will take the news. Just one question will the Wealden Council remove current payments to the Ashdown forest coffers. This can then be used on other projects of greater importance.
Disappointed I wasn’t aware of this until too late. Undoubtedly people will try and avoid these charges, if applied, by parking as close as they can for free. Definitely will make me think twice about where I chose to spend my leisure time if a simple walk in the forest costs me money!
The proposal was clearly defeated but suspect this was already a done deal. We left Europe on a smaller margin.
Really disappointing and counter-productive if this is passed. Prepare for roadsides to be utilised. Use of the Forest will inevitably be reduced .
I think if you love the forest and respect the car parks valuable maintenance as important then a fee is a minor thing. Better still …. walk there!
Not everyone is in walking distance of the forest. Families come from far and wide to enjoy the beauty of the forest and explore Winnie the Pooh landmarks. Agree the roadsides will be utilised.
So many not aware of this until too late.
Disappointed that parking charges are coming. We walk once a week for 8 miles in the Sussex area in the Summer, & at Ashdown Forest. We cannot tell how long we are likely to be & restrictions on time wouldn’t be good. Therefore we will not pay the high cost on parking charges at the Forest & Walk elsewhere. A better idea to raise funds would be for more tea rooms./ kiosks at the larger car parks on the Forest. . Coffee & tea as well as cold drinks would be very welcome. Coffee & tea shops make a profit serving drinks.
Quite right, hot and cold drinks would be a real attraction. They should be focussing on things which will draw in visitors, not chasing them away. It’s poor business sense to ignore the views of the bulk of their visitors. It’s also naive of people to think the charges will remain at the rate that’s been promoted. These schemes are expensive to run and depend on a high turnover of ticket purchases to break even and at least 54% of visitors will now not want to be buying tickets, or even visiting.