A bee in my bonnet (more ranting)

I’ve got a right bee in my bonnet about Bretton Country Park and their recent car park charge increase.

They *did* reply to me, by the end of Tuesday, but to be honest it looked like a cut and paste of the information available on the website attempting to justify the increase in March from £5 ($8), which was already expensive, to £7.50 (apx $12) for 2 hours or more.

For example, they say: This fee does cover all three car parks (well, whoopy-do), the visitor centre (whether I want to visit it or not) and the Park Lane lower entrance car park (wherever that is, and obviously not one of the “all three” car parks already covered).

So I say: Well, I could visit the whole of Clovelly in North Devon, a lovely little picturesque village perched on a hillside in the affluent south-west for £6.50 ($10). Or I could park all day in the seaside town of Cleethorpes for between FREE and £5 . Both are traditional and popular holiday destinations that could justify higher charges if they wished, both often get packed (as opposed to the almost-empty car park at Bretton on Sunday), and both are whole towns/villages. And let’s face it (and with apologies to my West Yorkshire chums), who goes on holiday to Wakey?

They say: The new charges were introduced with a tiered payment option (wait for it …) and a much needed card payment facility (ah, so is this what we’re actually paying for – the card processing admin charges and installation of the new system?). They found visitors increasingly wanted to use cards even with the £5 rate as they did not have change.

I say: The so-called tiered option is £2.50 ($4) for up to 1 hour; £5 for 1 – 2 hours; and £7.50 for 2 hours or more. Wow, I love those “tiers”.  I must admit, I don’t carry £5 in change either – surely a screaming pointer that they were charging too much in the first place without putting the fees up. And how many dog walkers take their bank and credit cards with them?

They say: For £65 a  year ($103) I can become a friend of Yorkshire Sculpture Park and enjoy free parking.

I say: I can join English Heritage for £47 a year ($75) or the National Trust for £40 a year ($64) and enjoy “free parking”, and more, all over the country. And £65 a year is hardly free now, is it?

They say: They have to raise £2m ($3.2m) in order to run the centre and maintain the 500-acre site and provide the exhibitions and the education and community work they do on top of the £1.5m ($2.4m) they already receive in funding.

I say: My heart bleeds, they are so impoverished. How about charging the exhibitors, the community and  whoever they educate for the services they provide instead of the visiting, easy-target motorist?

They say: They know this represents great value for money given the changing exhibition programme and 500 acres of parkland to explore as they continue to avoid an admission charge.

I say: All day parking at Worsbrough Mill and Country Park in Barnsley is true value for money at £3 ($5), and they have a working mill, living history demonstrations, a farm, a canal, a reservoir, and a weir to visit too. FREE all day parking at Langsett Reservoir near Sheffield is true value for money, and they have a visitor centre too, and proper big water. FREE all day parking at Scout Dyke in Penistone is true value for money.

And only those who live in Bretton or who can get there on a single bus can truly avoid an admission charge. Charging £7.50 for 2 hours or more parking is NOT free admission.

I wish them luck, I really do. But, to be honest, in the current economic climate I can’t see them surviving for much longer charging that kind of money. Once again, human greed will out.

They say: Raising our car parking charges was a tough decision …

I say: No sweat. It’s made my decision about returning, or not, very easy.

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6 thoughts on “A bee in my bonnet (more ranting)

  1. I have to agree with everything you have said. These charges are, unfortunately, one of the issues that drives people away from the ‘arts’. Most people see this as being ripped off when the ‘arts’ are highly subsidised anyway. I know they are crying poverty and they don’t get enough money but they need to get into the real, commercial world. Driving people away by high car parking costs is not going to help their cause. I enjoy going to YSP, but not at that price, others will not go referring to it as expensive and too ‘arty-farty’ . There are lovely walks around the parks, although I don’t generally go into many exhibitions, they are generally over my head. (I admit to being a philistine!) So, charge (nominally) those that like to visit them.
    They employ a lot of staff at YSP but they also have a lot of volunteers working in all depts. I have two friends that give up their time once a week to work there, in admin or the shop. There are so many volunteers that one friend regularly gets called to say she is not needed! They do get free parking and a lunch when they work!
    I’m not sure what the answer is I can only comment that these places are going totally the wrong way.

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    • I hope they see some of these comments, I really do. They need a wake-up call or all of that land will be sold off and built on before long. Like you, I don’t go for the “arty” side of it, I go for the scenery, the walks, the fresh air.

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  2. I reckon the irony of the situation is that if they were to HALVE their car parking charges (from previous levels!!) AND ADVERTISE it, they would get more than double the number of visitors! People love a ‘bargain’, after all!

    Oh yes, I’ve been to the mill in Barnsley, and bought some of their wholemeal flour! Makes really nice bread!

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