CONTACTLESS ticket machines are now being introduced in Exmoor National Park car parks – to replace the £2 honesty boxes.

The proposal for the new ticket machines was passed at an authority meeting which took place on September 8 2020.

Since 2011, there has been a 44 per cent drop in Government funding for national parks.

Ashcombe Park in Simonsbath will be the first to receive a new ticket machine and renovated toilet block, which will cost £37,000.

Exmoor National Park believe that £10,000 could be raised annually at Aschcombe Park, and are set to charge £2 per half day and £3 per day.

“Adding contactless machines to some car parks, while investing in increased parking capacity and improved facilities, has potential to double income from our car parks,” said Dan Barnett, access and recreation manager for Exmoor National Park Authority.

“This could be achieved without even requiring most visitors to pay more than is already requested under the existing cash cairn system.

“And by providing a safe, convenient way for people to pay we hope everyone will support the great work that goes into protecting and maintaining our wonderful National Park.

“A day charge transferable between car parks, season tickets and concessions all form part of the proposal put to members and will hopefully help create a system that is fairer while on the whole creating a much better visitor experience.”

It costs Exmoor National Park £100,000 a year to maintain the car parks and public toilets.

The extra income will go towards maintaining car parks and toilets and helping fund the National Park’s core education, access and conservation work.

Francis Schott, chairman of Exmoor Parish Council, said: “The Parish Council understands the dilemma facing the National Park and like them we want to ensure a safe, pleasant stay for visitors, with the level of facilities one could reasonably expect.

“In Simonsbath the National Park have among other things funded and installed a wonderful accessible trail out on the Two Moors Way to Wheal Eliza, with all the drama of the Barle Valley, and well-maintained amenities are crucial to ensuring it can be enjoyed by all.

“The National Park is also working with the parish council to find additional, safe parking elsewhere in the village to address a pre-existing problem we have with roadside parking.”

There are already ticket machines at Tarr Steps and Valley of Rocks, which Exmoor National Park Authority say have increased income.