Is it any surprise visitor numbers are down at Nowton Park since car parking charges were introduced, as reported in last week’s Free Press?
I’ve never been a frequent visitor to the park, instead choosing to pop in when I’m on one of my health kicks for a ‘run’ (otherwise known as a slow jog). These visits usually coincide with good weather and tend to signal an impending holiday and the alarming realisation of baring all in swimwear.
My visits to the park pretty much ground to a halt after car parking charges were introduced in April 2012. No longer could I just pull on my leggings and trainers, grab a bottle of water and jump in the car for the jaunt. Nope, I then had to scrape around in my purse for change and also consider how long I might be: £1 for an hour? Or £2 for longer? I fear I may be overstating my running ability here. There’s no way I can (currently) run for more than an hour... but there’s a good chance I might take a lengthy breather en route and thereby push my stay into another car park payment band.
So the council can count me as one of those visitors who is now (reluctantly) giving the park a wide berth.
Yes, I acknowledge season tickets can be purchased for a reasonable sum (£15) but that requires some advance planning and a conviction that one will get their money’s worth.
This immediately precludes those like me, who only have infrequent bursts of healthy energy. I should think it also puts off some who visited for the occasional picnic, to have a cuppa in the visitor centre, to play five-a-side, or who fancied taking their dog for a walk somewhere different.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has to spend our money wisely, but I wonder if there is a case for introducing free stays at Nowton of up to an hour. This would allow people to pop into its lovely café or take the dog for a walk . . . and certainly encourage the likes of me to keep on running rather than park my posterior mid-route.