VISITORS to Eastrop Park will still have to spend £8 to park for the day despite more than 2,200 people signing a petition calling for parking to be free.

The petition was handed to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council last month, resulting in a decision being made to keep the first two hours as free parking.

READ MORE: Protest held at Eastrop Park against parking charges 

However, the tariffs proposed for additional hours will be kept the same as previously agreed: £2 for two to four hours; £4 for four to six hours; £7 for six to eight hours; and £8 for more than eight hours.

Overnight charges from 7pm to 8am will cost £2.

Just one person supported the proposals in a borough council consultation on the charges.

The council has decided to suspend parking during the six-week summer holiday, however said it had no plans to continue doing this in future school holidays.

Cllr Paul Basham, who launched the petition, updated campaigners to say he was “disappointed” with the outcome.

He said he has considered whether to launch a new petition pressing for completely free parking, adding: “So many of you I met believed that this was a point of principle – that you have already paid for this in your council tax; that the importance of green space to physical and mental health has never been more clear; that parks should be free at the point of access.”

However, he decided to “let the matter rest”, adding: “Of course, if one of you wanted to pick up the baton, I would happily sign your petition.”

SEE ALSO: Petition signed by thousands against parking at Eastrop Park handed in to council

Cllr Basham, who represents Nordon for Basingstoke and Deane Independent Group, thanked those who had supported his campaign, saying: “We have secured change – two hours of free parking will undoubtedly help many – but not all park users.”

He is now concerned that the introduction of parking charges at Eastrop will result in further charges rolled out at other green spaces.

Cllr Rebecca Bean, the council’s cabinet member for resident services, said her decision gave a balance which supports free use of the council’s parks, while also ensuring the car park at Eastrop is not misused and can be improved.

She said: “Eastrop Park is a much-loved area of open space in the town centre which attracts visitors to the area and many families travel to from around the borough.

“For some time we have had concerns that the car parks at Eastrop Park are not being used solely by those people who visit the park, it is used by people who work in the town centre or nearby business parks and this is unfair on the users of Eastrop Park.

“We also have to maintain and improve all of our car parks, including introducing EV charging facilities, and the funding for this is generated from car parking charges.”

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