Pay and Display Car Parking at The Moor

You may have seen that The National Trust will soon be charging for parking down at The Moor.  This has received a mixed response from residents and visitors alike, but I think it is worth explaining a little more about it.  I have seen people comment that it is simply a revenue generating opportunity, and the facts of the matter are – that is correct, but perhaps not for the reasons that you would imagine.  Countryside NT properties such as Maidenhead and Cookham Commons (MCC) suffer from not being able to generate much of an income.  Some money can be generated through sales of wood products or specific area membership recruitment, but most rely on quite a meagre annual budget to maintain and conserve the land they own - which is not sustainable going forward. Pay and Display car parking is a way of generating an additional income for NT countryside properties such as the MCC.  The area here covers 834 acres and costs over £70K a year to run.  It has very little in the way of visitor generated revenue and that means that the funds available to spend on conservation activities, after general maintenance of the area, is very limited.  By installing solar powered parking ticket machines at The Moor, The National Trust hope to generate much needed incremental budget, both from the parking money itself and from an increase in memberships.  That will allow them to carry out additional conservation work across the commons: further improvement of the chalk grassland at Winter Hill – clearing more of the bramble and Ash trees that have colonised these areas over the last few decades, helping to protect and restore the edges of our commons that have been lost due to vehicle pressures or path and other access improvements. All of which will help us conserve the area forever and for everyone.
I think there are two important points to note.  Firstly, if you are a member of the NT, the parking will be free anyway for however long you are there.  And remember when you join up, you should specify the area that you want your membership to support - so you actually nominate the Maidenhead and Cookham Commons.  And secondly, the first half hour will be free, so if you park there to walk the children to school, you will still be able to do so without incurring charges. And if you are not a member it will only cost £2 per day to park and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that it directly contributes to conserving the local area.
Below is the Q&A issued by The National Trust and our Area Ranger, Owen Hibben will be on hand in the car park on six occasions through November and December to discuss the changes.
  • Why are you introducing car parking charges at Cookham Moor car park?
  • It currently costs £70k to care for Maidenhead and Cookham Commons every year. We require fund in order to proactively manage the woodland, chalk grassland and marshes for wildlife, and maintain the footpaths, fencing and car parks.
  • When will you begin to charge for parking at Cookham Moor?
  • Parking charges will be introduced early 2018. (Jan/Feb)
  • How much will it cost?
  • If you are a member of The National Trust you will be able to park for free as you can do in all other National Trust car parks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Non-members will be charged a flat fee of £2 if they are staying in the car park for more than half an hour. 
  • Will you have a ticket machine or a person collecting fees?
  • There will be a pay and display machine and National Trust members will be asked to scan their cards at the ticket machine for free parking.
  • Are new car parking charges being introduced at all The National Trust car parks in the Maidenhead and Cookham area?
  • Not straight away, but there are future plans to roll this out to some of our other car parks. The National Trust has a responsibility to protect and maintain the places it cares for ever and for everyone. Many National Trust places already charge for parking. As a charity, we always need to consider all options in ensuring that we have the right levels of funding in place to make sure that our places are protected.
  • How will you enforce car parking charges?  What happens if you dont pay?
  • We are currently trialing different solutions to see what is going to be the best solution for us.  We are an access organisation and hope to achieve reasonable levels of enforcement without resorting to clamping or entry gates.
  • When is the car park open?
  • The car park is always open, charging hours are from dawn till dusk. There is no overnight car parking.
  • Will NT staff or volunteers man the car park / act as car park attendants?
  • We hope to have a higher staff presence in our car park and part of their job will be to enforce parking.
  • Why do we need to raise money through car parking?
  • This money will enable us to carry out much needed work in the countryside at Maidenhead and Cookham Commons.
  • Are there any discounts on car parking?
  • The best discount of all is National Trust membership this gets you free parking at all our hundreds of car parks across the country, as well as free entry to all our properties.
  • Can I pay for parking by credit card, or by phoning from my mobile?
  • There will be a credit/debit card machine at some point but not straight away as it is still being tested. You will not be able to pay using a mobile phone.
  • What about people who walk, travel by bicycle or public transport to reach your outdoor places?
  • We will not be charging for access. So those arriving by bicycle, on foot or by public transport will not be affected by these charges.
  • What about those people that regularly visit the site, e.g. dog walkers.  Isnt this new charge unfair to them?
  • We definitely want people to continue to come and enjoy this special place. But, these car parks and areas surrounding them require continued and ongoing management and maintenance. We hope if people love this place as much as we do that they will understand why we need to introduce charges to protect and care for it.  One of the most cost effective ways of doing this is to become a member as for members, car parking is free.
  • I thought the National Trust was encouraging people to get outdoors?
  • We are very keen to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors. However we also have a responsibility to protect what we look after for ever and for everyone, and we need to ensure we have the funds available to do so. As a charity we rely entirely on our members and supporters to pay for that care and maintenance.  At Maidenhead and Cookham Commons we are spending £15,000 - £20,000 per year maintaining the woodland, chalk grassland and marshes. By charging for car parking we will be able to greatly improve the care we are able to give these.
  • Will National Trust members have to pay the parking fee?
  • No. Members will be able to park for free at Cookham Moor car park, as they can at any of our National Trust car parks right across England, Wales and NI
  • How much does it cost to care for Maidenhead and Cookham Commons?
  • Caring for Maidenhead and Cookham Commons costs the National Trust £15,000 - £20,000 per year (2016)
  • Is there anything in the Commons Act that states that access to common land should be free for all?
  • Yes, and this is still the case. There are no plans to charge for access and those arriving by bicycle, on foot or by public transport will not be charged.
  • What about all the visitors to events such as Rock the Moor? Will they all have to pay to park?
  • No. On days where there are events such as Rock the Moor, Cookham Scout Fair and the Christmas Fair we will not charge. But we would still encourage members to scan their cards so we still get member credit.
  • Wont this charge put pressure on other access points how will this affect the car park?
  • We have kept the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and Cookham Parish Council aware of our plans and we will all be monitoring the situation closely.
  • What happens if valuables are stolen form my vehicle here?
  • As with all car parks, its the owners responsibility to take care of valuables. So its best to take them with you, or lock them up out of sight.
  • How do I take out membership is the car parking charge then refunded?
  • Our nearest property that you can join at is Cliveden (about 10min drive away). Or you can join online.
  • What happens if the machine is not working and I cant pay?
  • Let us know, and an engineer will be on their way to fix it.
  • Ive been coming here for years for free, why do I have to now pay?
  • We want to make sure that Maidenhead and Cookham Commons are always as beautiful and loved as they are today.  Its great that more and more people are coming here, but that does take its toll on this special place. We need to spend money to sort out any wear and tear on the land and put in new facilities if people need them in the future.
  • I come here every day to walk my dog. Im not here all day so why do I have to pay.
  • We want people to enjoy walking their dogs here, but we also need to make sure Maidenhead and Cookham Commons are cared for forever and for everyone.  A relatively small car parking charge will help look after Maidenhead and Cookham Commons long into the future, and support the vital work of the National Trust locally.  If you come here a lot it might be worth considering membership, which lets you walk your dog here and at nearby places for free.  
  • Im a local, why should I pay?
  • Were delighted that you love Maidenhead and Cookham Commons as much as we do. We now need to make sure that everyone has the same experience as you.  A relatively small car parking charge will help look after Maidenhead and Cookham Commons long into the future, and support the vital work of the National Trust locally.  
  • I volunteer for the Trust, do I have to pay?
  • No, its free for you to park here as a volunteer you are also a member of the National Trust. 
  • Im disabled, do I have to pay?
  • No. All disabled users park for free at National Trust properties, they just have to leave their blue badge on show.
  • Can I pay to park up my caravan/camper van here now?
  • No. Parking is only allowed during between dawn and dusk. This fee does not allow people to camp in the car park.
  • Who do I contact if I wish to make a suggestion or complaint?
  • MaidenheadandCookhamCommons@nationaltrust.org.uk
You can follow the Maidenhead and Cookham Commons on Facebook here and on Twitter here

Ranger Owen will be available for questions at these times.

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