Furious families to boycott the Look Out and Coral ReefBy Becky Barnes
September 20, 2012
Furious families, walkers and nature lovers have resolved to boycott The Look Out and Coral Reef after parking charges came into force on Monday.
Visitors say the introduction of charges at the car parks, both in Nine Mile Ride, is ‘disgusting’ and a Bracknell mum has launched a protest campaign.
She has set up Facebook page ‘I will NOT use The Look Out and Coral Reef if I have to pay for parking!’ this week, said the fees demonstrated ‘shocking behaviour’ from Bracknell Forest Council.
Writing on our getbracknell Facebook page she said: “It is absolutely disgusting [they] will be charging for parking at Look Out and Coral Reef – as if I haven’t got enough to deal with getting a baby and preschooler ready for swimming or play at Look Out I now have to find change for parking. I think not. Look Out and Coral Reef are off my list of places to visit.”
Bracknell Forest Council approved the charges earlier this month, despite concerns raised by visitors and Natural England.
Natural England, a statutory consultee, was concerned the introduction of charges would result in drivers parking elsewhere around the Special Protected Area (SPA), impacting on important habitat for endangered birds. Some Facebook users admitted they would look for free parking elsewhere.
Becca Pope wrote on the getbracknell Facebook page: “It’s robbery – we’ll find somewhere else to park and walk there.”
To park at Coral Reef costs £3 for up to four hours and £5 for the whole day, while parking at The Look Out Discovery Centre costs £2 for up to four hours or £4 for the full day.
Customers who pay to visit The Look Out Discovery Centre or swim at Coral Reef will have the parking charge deducted from their entry.
One user said: “Why not charge for parking at peak times only if there has to be a charge at all? If people just want to use the Look Out for walking, they don’t get a refund. In this Olympic year, surely councils should be making such facilities more accessible, not making going for a walk cost money. What next? Charging to park outside local shops, schools or surgeries?”
Pennie Wright said: “It makes it very difficult for family’s trying to offer their children an affordable day out, whether they come to the Look Out or hire bikes to ride around.
“Watch the revenue fall as people start to go elsewhere. We are in a recession meaning money is tight for everyone.”
Regular visitors can buy an annual permit, costing £60 for people living in Bracknell Forest and £100 for non-residents.
Michele Parker said parking should be free for locals and non-residents should be charged, adding: “Bracknell Forest Council is taking a short-sighted view of this. Surely exercise for our children in the borough is a good thing and reduces other costs to the government, even of it doesn’t directly influence the local council? I will choose to visit other parks where this is not an issue.”
Cllr Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, corporate services and public protection, said: “The council has resisted charging for car parking at The Look Out for many years, but the current financial challenges it faces means it has had to make many difficult decisions.”