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Draft letter to local media - visitors charges - never submitted - Aug 2015
Visiting the Thatcham Nature Discovery centre most recently, I was disappointed, but not at all surprised, to see two of the Solar powered parking meters recently installed in the parking areas.

Having obviously failed to generate enough voluntary 3 pound ‘donations’ in recent years, and following a recent leaflet drop, BBOWT now appear to have resorted to peer pressure to bolster revenues.

Presumably if you are not displaying a ticket, you are a bad citizen, and need to be shamed into contributing to what should be a resource freely accessible to all. A recent report by English Nature highlighted cost as a major factor restricting access to the countryside, particularly for minority groups

Even before the management of the site transferred to BBOWT, I was left with the impression that elements of West Berkshire Council saw the on-going funding of the service as an inconvenient cost, one to be dropped at the first opportunity.

As a former resident of the Newbury area, I actually recent being asked to make further contributions to a facility I indirectly contributed to via my council tax over the years, but after years of unjustified cuts to public services, pay to use is now becoming a reality.

The biggest shame is that this country actually possesses the wealth to properly funded local services, but the Conservative Party are the last people likely to promote any form of modest wealth redistribution to the benefit of all not least Land Value Taxation.

I never submitted this one as it was taken over by events and blanket coverage in the local media 
after local parish councils objected to the signs. I did post the same text on the local bird watching forum which elicited the following response:

I think you will find the "Pay and Display" machines are in fact voluntary donation posts and will have notices attached making this clear[which the parish councils objected to - SG]. There was a substantial article about this in this weeks Newbury Weekly News. I see no reason why those who are not members of the Wildlife Trust should be asked to contribute towards the facilities they are using. If you go to any other organisation such as the RSPB or WWT or other Wildlife Trust reserves non members usually have to either pay for parking or pay an admission fee. Sad as it is these organsiations don't run on fresh air!

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