PLANS to charge people £3 to park at Wellington Monument have been slammed by a town councillor.

Cllr John Thorne said the pay and display parking which is set to be introduced soon could undermine the goodwill of local people who had been supporting the Trust’s £3.4 million fund-raising campaign to restore the monument.

The Trust wants to charge £1 for up to two hours, and £3 for anything longer, while its members can park for free by scanning their membership card, with the trust donating £2 everytime a member visits.

Cllr Thorne, who is also one of Wellington’s two county councillors, said the parking fees are a tax on local people.

Somerset County Gazette:

CONCERN: Cllr John Thorne at Wellington Monument

He said: “For the Trust to say they will give £2 from their own funds every time a member visits just shows they should have been able to find the £3.4 million for the monument restoration without the years of waiting and the calls for the public to contribute.

“They have 5.6 million paid-up members which they boast is greater than the population of Finland - so they could have done it by giving 61p for each member not by levying £3 parking fees on local people who want to walk their dogs or enjoy a healthy stroll in the countryside.

“I think this is a poorly conceived move by the Trust and they should think again and remove the pay and display machine.”

But the Trust says the parking charges are needed in order to fund the long-term care for the site. 

Helen Sharp, National Trust, said: “We are committed to the long-term future of the monument and its surroundings and it is for this reason that we are introducing the pay and display machine.

“It replaces the honesty box that has been there for some time. We want as many people as possible to come and enjoy this special site for generations to come and I hope the local community understand that it costs money to look after in the long term."