A NEW public consultation has opened on the introduction of parking charges to Eastrop, after more than 130 people objected to the original proposals.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council wants to introduce parking charges in the two car parks at Eastrop which would see visitors having to pay £8 to stay the day.

This has been reduced from the council’s original plan to charge £12.80 for the day.

The borough council appeared to have pushed the new charges through in October last year.

However, following complaints that this was a “quiet suppression of democracy” it has now decided to hold a further consultation which runs until January 30.

The new proposed charges are £1 for up to two hours; £2 for up to four hours; £4 for up to six hours; £7 for up to eight hours; and £8 for more than eight hours.

Evening charges would be £2 from between 7pm and 8am.

However, park users are still unhappy about the proposals.

In an objection to the council, Terry Weeks, from Basingstoke, said: “I most strongly object to this proposal and believe it should be abandoned.

“The park has always been a community area for people to meet, enjoy and exercise and as such should remain a facility to be enjoyed by all without imposing any charges.

“The cost and maintenance of a charging facility would be considerable and eat up much of the money collected.”

Mr Weeks believes charges would discourage people from using the park to exercise and pointed out that nearby residents would suffer with cars using other roads I the area to park for free.

He added: “If the council really needs to raise money the council tax is the correct vehicle to do this and keep Basingstoke the pleasant town it always has been without any money grabbing schemes.”

In a report published on October 13, Councillor Hayley Eachus, cabinet member for recycling, waste, and regulatory services, said: “I have carefully considered all the points raised and the concerns about the scale of the 2 of 8 charges removing a low-cost activity for families, especially for those who can only drive to the park or are on low incomes, and the impact on groups using the park for a range of activities.”

She added: “These changes are designed to strike the balance between not restricting access to a low-cost town centre activity for people and families and encouraging cycling and walking and deterring those who are parking there to go to other places in the town centre.

“The funds raised from the charges will go towards maintaining and improving the park at a time of rising costs and reducing funding for the council.”

The report said that the council is facing a £4.3 million budget gap by 2024/25, which has been put “under further pressure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

It added: “Introducing parking charges at Eastrop car parks, in line with other town centre car parks, will strike a fair balance for those visiting the park and those who park at the site and visit the town centre. This would also raise additional income to support the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the park.”

Comments on the revised order must be sent to engineering@basingstoke.gov.uk by Sunday January 30, 2022.