VOLUNTEERS at Southwick Country Park are deeply relieved that an agreement has been reached between themselves and Wiltshire Council over not having to introduce parking charges there.

The authority plans to hike up season ticket prices, some of which may double in price, and to introduce parking charges on Sundays and bank holidays across Wiltshire.

Despite traffic regulation order notices being put up in Southwick Country Park, saying that parking there would no longer be free, the Friends of Southwick Country Park have confirmed this will not happen.

Chairman Joan Jones said that they have agreed with the authority that it will stay free while they maintain the car park’s surface using tools and materials provided by Wiltshire’s Countryside Team, to an agreed standard.

“There was relief about this agreement. It was a very amicable decision which has now been sorted,” said Mrs Jones, who has been a member for 10 years.

“We have a service delegation agreement with Wiltshire Council’s traffic department to maintain the car park and keep it in a good condition. By doing this, the council will waive the parking charges.

“If the Friends, who have a dozen volunteers, are unable to fulfill their part of this agreement, then Wiltshire Council will charge for parking there.

“We want to keep this place free and by doing this, we can make sure that happens which is great news for everyone.

“After initially being concerned, we met with Adrian Hampton and Bridget Wayman from the council and I am very happy to say we have reached this agreement. This will come into effect from September. We are up to the task but more volunteers are always welcome.”

Wiltshire Council still own the park and a contractor will still cut the grass and do other jobs there. The signs at the park will be taken down when the consultation ends on May 21.

On the Friends’ website, a post said: “The notices are part of the legal process by which Wiltshire Council will acquire the right to charge for parking in places that have previously been free of charge.

“Without it, if the Friends reneged on their part of the deal, the council would have to begin their consultative process all over again, just for Southwick Country Park.” This way, the legal structure is in place if it is needed.”