A DOG walker has branded Wirral Council's plans to charge £4 for parking at country parks an “absolute disgrace”.
The cash-strapped authority is proposing a raft of parking fee hikes as it attempts to make £45 million of savings in the next financial year.
But Richard Fahy, who walks terrier Whisper at Eastham Country Park five to six times a week, told the Standard the council should not need to resort to such drastic measures.
The 52-year-old steel worker said: “They should be able to manage their budget without doing this – it's an absolute disgrace.
“The council should be encouraging people to get out and use the open spaces to improve health and tackle obesity so charging £4 to park is ridiculous. The NHS is already struggling with people who are overweight.”
Mr Fahy, of Whitby, Ellesmere Port, said the move could also force people to park on the streets, creating another problem, and would likely have a negative impact on nearby traders, including two pubs and a cafe.
So far more than 16,000 people have signed petitions urging the council's administration to scrap the plans. Residents have until February 10 to raise objections.
The proposals, which will help the council make more than £130 million of savings in the next four years, include:
• An all-day £4 charge to park in car parks at Wirral, Arrowe and Eastham Country Parks and Royden Park.
• At Fort Perch Rock, the proposal is to set parking rates similar to those in place in other public car parks in Wirral. It would cost £1.50 for an hour, £2.10 for two hours, £2.60 for three, £3.80 for four hours and £4.60 for up to five hours. Above five hours, there is a whole day rate of £5.
• All other current parking rates would be raised by 50p.
• There is an option to pay to park all-day for a flat rate and in all car parks there is a competitive annual permit rate for people that will use the same parking area on a regular basis.
In a further proposal, a new charge for parking in other locations, such as Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton and in country parks may be introduced from April 2017.
Residents can give their views online, quoting the reference number of the scheme – SA/PS/2017.
Alternatively they can write to Parking Services Manager, Business Services, Cheshire Lines Building, Canning Street, Birkenhead CH41 1ND quoting the same reference, SA/PS/2017.
All comments need to be submitted by Friday, February 10.