Dunorlan parking battle ‘may be lost’


ALTHOUGH no formal decision has yet been made on whether or not to introduce parking charges at Dunorlan Park, in the heart of Tunbridge Wells, the Chairman of the Friends of Dunorlan Park group fears says the ‘battle may already be lost’.

Chairman Peter Russell, who has been at the forefront of raising concerns over Council’s proposal to charge anyone who parks their cars in either of the park’s two car parks, made his comments in the latest Friends of Dunorlan Park newsletter.

“It looks as though we will lose the battle against car parking charges being introduced in Dunorlan Park,” he said. “However, I have had detailed discussions with the councillors involved and we hope that any scheme introduced will have taken into consideration the points we have made.”

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC), which owns Dunorlan Park, is considering charging drivers to park in its two car parks. Offering 40 spaces each, one is located at the main entrance to the park, off Pembury Road, and the other can be accessed off Halls Hole Road.

The proposal from TWBC has received considerable backlash from the wider community, with some people taking to social media to equate the proposed move to ‘theft of community assets’, while others have branded it as ‘greedy’. Still others have expressed fears that the park will no longer be accessible to those who are not mobile enough to travel to the park on foot. A local petition against the move received more than 1,300 signatures.

However, the Council has maintained that the increased revenue stream is necessary to cover the costs of maintaining its parks.

In the Friends of Dunorlan Park winter newsletter, Peter Russell said: “Certainly, maintenance needs to be improved. The Council contractors, Tivoli, can only do so much with the funding provided by TWBC, and their work is supplemented on a weekly basis by the Friends’ volunteer group. Your Committee would be more willing to support the introduction of car parking charges if the revenue was definitely being used directly in the Park and not just to shore up the Council’s finances.”

Although TWBC made it clear on Tuesday March 14 that no decision on the implementation of the proposed parking fee had yet been made, it did indicate that councillors were scrutinising responses to a survey launched on the matter in December 2022.

However, the Council has maintained that the increased revenue stream is necessary to cover the costs of maintaining its parks. The original car park proposal was one of various proposals designed to raise revenue to plug a gap of nearly £1million in its finances.



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