Concern as East Hampshire ramblers may have to pay for parking by texting credit card details

PARKING ROW Harting Down
PARKING ROW Harting Down
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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PROPOSALS to get people to pay for parking by mobile phones at a beauty spot have been criticised.

Harting Down, near Petersfield, is one of the most popular destinations in the South Downs for walkers.

But the National Trust, which manages the car park, has provoked concerns after proposing to introduce pay by phone parking.

It would mean people would have to pay to park by texting credit card details to a central computer.

Parking attendants would ensure everyone has paid using hand-held computers to check vehicle number plates against an on-screen payment list.

But Petersfield Ramblers Club said it could put many people off visiting in future as the majority of walkers drive to the remote beauty spot.

Club secretary Sheila Gadd said: ‘We don’t agree this should be the only way of paying to park – we are against it.

‘Many weekday daytime visitors are elderly or retired and may not be comfortable with mobile phone technology and this could easily put them off going to such a beautiful spot.’

The move follows recent vandalism attacks which left parking machines smashed and empty of cash.

Fiona Scully, trust community warden, said: ‘The second time the machine was smashed beyond recognition, I couldn’t believe it.

‘Because of the car park’s isolated position we have decided to operate a cash-free parking policy there, so there are plans to introduce a method of paying to park by using a mobile phone.

‘We are trialling the scheme at Hindhead and it seems to be working without a problem.

‘There is no definite date yet for starting it on Harting Down, so at the moment parking on the hill is free.’

There are also concerns that erratic mobile phone cover on the hill could further frustrate visitors.