Council slammed for not installing hygiene measures at Northamptonshire country park pay points

There are no gel stations at the pay points.There are no gel stations at the pay points.
There are no gel stations at the pay points.
Cllr Julie Brookfield thinks Northamptonshire County Council is putting residents' health at risk.

Northamptonshire County Council has been accused of putting residents’ health at risk by not installing hygiene measures at its country park pay stations.

Corby’s Cllr Julie Brookfield says the authority is showing a disregard for health by insisting that country park users must pay to park at the venues and touch the payment machines to do so.

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The authority does not have a contactless payment system and has not installed sanitation gel stations near to the machines. It has put a sign up at some payment stations to say they are not cleaned between use.

Cllr Brookfield wrote to council leader Matt Golby asking the authority to waive the parking charges until a contactless method was available.

But she received a response from an officer saying that visitors must ‘take responsibility for their own hygiene arrangements’ and there is a long lead time on contactless systems.

Cllr Brookfield says the situation is not good enough.

She said: “NCC is at the heart of the fight against this pandemic and yet for the sake of a few pounds in car park charges is putting residents’ health at risk. Northamptonshire people have been amazingly patient and have complied with the lockdown, doing as much as possible to protect themselves and others. To treat them with such disregard, by saying that visitors take responsibility for their own hygiene arrangements is irresponsible from this local authority responsible for health and wellbeing.”

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The authority closed the country parks to cars at the start of the lockdown but reopened them on May 20. Barnwell, Brampton Valley, Fermyn Woods, Irchester, Sywell and Brxiworth are the country parks run by NCC.

In its response to Cllr Brookfield the officer said: “We are in the process of obtaining gel stations to install next to parking machines to help customers who have not come prepared; however, there is a lead in time for these owing to national demand and it will be a couple of weeks until they become available.

“We were in the process of trying to make all the parking machines card capable (to reduce cash/theft risk) when the pandemic hit and there are now long lead in times (circa September) to achieve this given the machine provider’s situation on parts supply etc.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Paying for parking pays for our parks, which means parking fees are ploughed directly back into the service to help pay for the ongoing maintenance of the parks for everyone to enjoy and right now that also includes the measures that we have taken to help park visitors manage during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“All park visitors are expected to manage their own social distancing and hygiene while in the parks. This includes when paying for parking, using the public toilets and generally all around the parks. We recommend they bring hand sanitiser to help them maintain good hand hygiene. Regular park users might prefer to purchase a season ticket instead, these can be purchased online and then just need to be displayed in the vehicle window.”

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