Parking charges in Surrey County Council’s countryside sites are to be removed to help promote health and wellbeing. The council’s cabinet has adopted a recommendation that the charges are stopped from 1 April 2020 as they don’t align with the council’s Community Vision to 2030 and the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
It has been recommended that countryside funding is better met through mainstream resources rather than car parking. The council will look to make efficiencies elsewhere in the council budget to cover the projected loss of income from removing the charges.
Surrey’s Interim Executive Director for Environment, Transport and Infrastructure, Gill Steward, said: “This report reflects the Council’s ambition to ensure that the countryside is not something enjoyed by just a few, but open and accessible to all of our 1.2 million residents. Our Countryside and open space is for everyone. We want to encourage all our residents to become more active and enjoy our beautiful countryside and open space – we believe it’s good for health and wider wellbeing.
“Over the coming months we will be putting together investment plans for our rights of way and our cycle paths so we can make it easy for people to reach their local countryside without relying on the car. We will also be providing much better information about our countryside – such as self-guided walks. We hope this change in approach will encourage everyone to get and about in our beautiful countryside.”
Save Surrey Countryside campaigner and local resident, Sally Blake, said: “This is a forward-looking report reflecting a welcome change in the times. This will add greatly to the health and happiness of many Surrey residents.”
The council will investigate the introduction of a voluntary payment scheme, so visitors can still make a contribution to the upkeep and management of the countryside sites. Residents with season tickets would be refunded for any time after the charges have ended.