Greensand Trust tackling Rushmere traffic with ANPR system, security staff and hike in parking charges

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The Greensand Trust is tackling traffic problems at Rushmere Country Park, with ANPR cameras, security staff and a whole-day parking charge increase from £3 to £6.

Debates raged on social media last month about large queues and tailbacks as a result of the Heath and Reach park's popularity during the pandemic, with some claiming it made the roads "dangerous".

A number of residents were urging the Trust to take action, while others blamed the park visitors: "People need to just use common sense and NOT QUEUE."

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However, The Greensand Trust has announced new changes in a bid to quash long queues at the park and help with maintenance costs as the site's popularity grows.

Visitors' cars at Rushmere Country Park. Photo: The Greensand Trust.Visitors' cars at Rushmere Country Park. Photo: The Greensand Trust.
Visitors' cars at Rushmere Country Park. Photo: The Greensand Trust.

A "faster more responsive" automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system will be installed in the coming months, and when the new system arrives, the parking charges will change to the following:

Up to 20 min (pick up / drop off) Free

20 min - 1 hours £2.00

1hr - 3hr £4.00

Over 3 hours £6.00

Annual Pass (unlimited access) £60.00

From April 1, the Greensand Parking Pass will increase to £60 and £66 (Gift Aid option). This equates to £5 per month (or £1.15per week) compared to the daily rate of £3.

Until the new ANPR system is installed, the whole-day parking charge for Rushmere Country Park will remain at £3. The Greensand Trust does not yet have a date for when the new ANPR system will arrive.

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A spokesman for The Greensand Trust stated: "As an outcome of Covid-19 and the various restrictions, Rushmere Country Park has experienced significant rises in visitor numbers, bringing increased pressure and wear on its infrastructure, increasing costs, whilst also restricting revenue generation.

"Although we continue to encourage visitors to come on foot, by bike or bus where possible and not to park locally, the impact of the increased numbers continues. When the site reaches capacity our entrance signs automatically indicate that the car parks are full and prevents access, this had led to some vehicles seeking to queue rather than move on as required, leading to significant disruption to local residents and the surrounding roads. We would like to thank Central Bedfordshire Council, for providing security at peak times in an effort to stop queuing on Linslade Road and this has eased the situation considerably in recent weeks.

"Rushmere’s parking infrastructure was not designed for this level of visits, leading to queues of vehicles trying to leave or enter at peak times. To address these issues we have invested to make improvements, and will begin to implement a number of changes to our parking systems over coming months, which will transition our parking system from a pay on exit, to a faster more responsive automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system with new tiered parking charge.

"This we hope will improve the sites overall capacity and flow of visitors in and out of the park and will better relate the parking charges to visitors needs giving options for short, mid and

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long term stays. We have also completed works to increase the available parking, whilst continuing to protecting more sensitive areas which are vulnerable to traffic. We hope visitors will continue to enjoy Rushmere and other local sites and keep well."

Posting on Facebook on March 20, Central Bedfordshire Cllr Mark Versallion, said: "Roads much clearer at Rushmere Park today. Thanks to CBC security staff and park rangers. I’m expecting further improvements to congestion when new parking charges start... [and] once the ANPR system is installed."

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