Car parking charges scheduled for introduction at some country parks are being delayed to help residents with the cost of living crisis.
And existing charges at other country parks also run by Staffordshire County Council are being frozen for another 12 months.
Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Communities and Culture, said: “Money generated from parking at our country parks is reinvested entirely in developing and promoting them for the public to enjoy, while protecting the plants and wildlife that make them so attractive to so many.
“It was clear during and after the pandemic that people valued using these open spaces for physical exercise and mental wellbeing and at a time when so many things seem so expensive, we wanted to help where we could.”
Some car parks at Cannock Chase and Chasewater country parks are paid for and their prices will remain at a maximum of £1 for up to two hours, or £3 a day. By comparison other non-council countryside car parks in the area charge up to £3 an hour and £8 a day.
An annual permit usable at all SCC sites costs £36 a year and a pass for regular volunteers is being explored.
Charging has been scheduled for introduction at Apedale, Deep Hayes, Greenway Bank, by the greenway at Rudyard and Froghall, but installation of the payment units is being delayed until late spring 2023 and then payments will be on a voluntary basis for the first few months.
Victoria Wilson added: “Every year there are hundreds of thousands of visits to our country parks and while we value open access for all abilities, we must maintain paths, spend money on conservation, heritage management and provide appropriate facilities.
“The County Council is doing all it can this winter to help residents and businesses in the face of rising costs.”
The decision to delay some charges and freeze others was made at same time as Staffordshire County Council announced how it is proposing to use its country parks to promote healthy living, encourage the green agenda and support individuals and small businesses.
Steps include improving catering opportunities; carrying out nature recovery work and creating woodlands to support carbon reduction; offering placements and volunteer opportunities; and encouraging exercise there by those who don’t usually think about visiting country parks.