DOG walkers have hit out at new parking charges at Alver Valley Country Park in Gosport.
Residents are angry that the town’s council has decided to introduce parking meters.
Everyone in Gosport should be able to enjoy the country park for free.Jenny Lane
Visitors will have to pay 80p an hour for the new car park off Cherque Way, in Lee-on-the-Solent, and the existing one in Grange Road, Rowner. Previously, it was free.
Dog walkers are unhappy with the charges which will apply every day between 10am and 6pm.
Liam Ferguson, a 59-year-old dog walker from Lee-on-the-Solent, said: ‘The council is just looking to make more money, as always. The hourly charges will discourage a lot of people.
‘It is awful of the council to even think about charging people to visit a lovely area of the town.’
Jenny Lane, from Rowner, agreed. She said: ‘People who use the country park regularly won’t any more.
‘Occasional visitors might be happy to pay 80p an hour but people who walk their dog there every day, like I do, will refuse to pay that much.
‘Everyone in Gosport should be able to enjoy the country park for free. It is terrible that the council wants to charge people.’
Labour councillor Dennis Wright said the hourly charge was too much.
‘We campaigned for 50p an hour when we knew the charge was going to happen,’ he said. ‘We think 80p is too much when you consider some town centre car parks are only 40p an hour.’
Gosport residents will have the chance to buy a permit that allows them to park at the seafront as well as the Alver Valley Country Park for no additional fee.
The new leisure permit is £70 a year.
The decision was made after the council’s community board received a number of complaints and objections.
Chairman Councillor Graham Burgess said: ‘We were going to introduce a parking permit for the Alver Valley which people could have bought.
‘But after feedback, we decided to just have the one permit covering the seafront at Stokes Bay and Lee-on-the-Solent as well as the country park.
Cllr Burgess added: ‘We have tried to simplify things by having just the leisure permit.’
More projects are under way
WORK is under way to create a new car park making access to the Alver Valley Country Park easier for visitors.
The construction on the car park, off Cherque Way in Lee-on-the-Solent, is expected to be completed by Easter after bad weather stalled the works.
It is just one of many projects in the country park which Gosport Borough Council is looking to finish this year.
A consultation is open asking for people’s views on a new play park, also off Cherque Way, where new toilets will be built.
The council is extending the BMX track and building a track for younger children. It is hoped the car park off Grange Road will cater for additional visitors to the track.
One of the council’s biggest plans is to secure a developer to build a garden centre, similar to Garsons in Titchfield.
The area will be marketed in the hope it will attract investment for a centre with a cafe and shop. It is hoped it will become the main gateway to the park.