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Flintshire car park charges suggested in council survey

CAR park charges or a donation scheme have been suggested in a survey as a way to fund the ongoing management of Wepre Park in Connah’s Quay.

A public survey was undertaken by Flintshire Council towards the end of 2021 to get views on the largest council-owned public park in the county.

Other respondents to the survey suggested that if car park charges were to be introduced, then a permit system should be put in place, while others expressed the view that parking should be kept free of charge.

A report on the survey, which received responses from more than 500 people, 85 per cent of whom live within a five-mile radius of the park, has been put together for Flintshire Council’s environment and economy scrutiny committee which meets next week.

They are expected to endorse a management plan for the park which covers the next five years. It will promote activity creating a resource valued by the community, making a positive contribution to physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as attracting visitors from across the region.

The plan also aims to ensure special wildlife qualities are protected and balances the needs of the environment with those of the public.
Features of the park include Ewloe Castle, remnants of the former Wepre Hall garden, a visitor centre, café, toilets, car park, office and workshop.

There are also sports pitches and changing rooms, a play area, skate park, angling pond and a network of footpaths throughout the site.

Wepre Park is currently managed by the council’s Sites Team within the Access and Natural Environment Service, with input from other Authority departments such as Aura and Streetscene.

According to the report it cost Flintshire Council £145,873 to staff and operate the park for 2022/23.

The report states: “The most frequent response as to how the park could secure resources towards its management was to introduce car parking charges.

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“Other suggestions made were a donation scheme, events including dog walks, runs, treasure hunts, Santa walks, car boot sales, cyclo cross, farmers market, business sponsorship, crowd funding to buy land, sponsor a tree/bench, selling wood, gift shop, café improvements, raffle, hiring the fields for events, chargeable education events, celebrity ambassadors, festivals and children’s parties.

“Comments were received that the park should be sufficiently resourced publicly and that charges should not be introduced. Others noted that if car parking charges were implemented a local permit should be introduced.”

Views on how the park could be improved were also sought, with better access for people with disabilities, and increased staff and police presence to help curb anti-social behaviour being among the suggestions.

The report adds: “When asked what improvements people would like to see at Wepre Park in 10 years’ time, a number of responses stated that they would like to see the park stay as it is.

“Improving access for disabled users, particularly to Ewloe castle was noted as was improvements to disabled car parking. More bins were highlighted and a dog poo bin by the castle.

“Tackling anti-social behaviour, together with an increased staff presence and police patrols and improved security were raised.

“Concerns were noted about increased visitor pressure and path erosion. Improvements for wildlife were suggested, as was improved paths for walks on the further side of the river, a bike pump track, development of the play area, an outdoor splash zone / pool and keeping public access to the Rosie.”

It adds: “When asked what facilities people would like to see the most frequent answers were more seats, better toilets, bins, zip wire/ go ape and CCTV.

“A number of respondents noted that they did not wish to see further developments at the park and wanted it kept natural.”

Other comments received included suggestions of an outdoor cinema, forest school activities for schools, more parking, high ropes, a petting zoo, camping at specific times, and a seasonal market.

The scrutiny committee will make a decision on endorsing the management plan at their meeting on Tuesday (February 7).