Visitors to Haddo Country Park could face car-parking charges if an asset transfer deal is approved.
Tomorrow local councillors will debate a proposal which would see Haddo County Park Forum Limited take on a 30-year lease of the existing council-owned car-park for just £1 per year.
In return, the monies generated from charges would enable the forum – which coordinates activities and maintenance within the park – to employ a visitor services officer.
The Forum claims a recent survey of park users demonstrates that visitors will “largely be supportive” of a car-park charge provided it is reasonable and that the income is spent on Haddo.
It has also intimated it will introduce an annual or seasonal ticket at “reasonable cost” to support regular users of the facility.
In a report to Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine Area Committee, Business Services director Ritchie Johnson says the market rental value of the car-park is £5,000 per annum and that, capacity-wise, the Forum has “as good a chance of longevity as can be predicted”.
He states: “The Forum is well supported by members and other community groups within the area. They have strong foundations within the community and plan to further develop both the country park and the activities delivered therein.
“Officers consider this to be a well-organised community group with the capacity to manage and develop this facility and agree that a transfer would further enhance the operational capabilities of the Forum.”
If the asset transfer is agreed, Aberdeenshire Council will continue to carry out white line maintenance, surface dressing and winter treatments as per the winter maintenance plan already in place for Haddo.
Haddo Country Park Forum Ltd will be responsible for any patching works within the car park and at the end of the serviceable life of the car park surface, the local authority will be responsible for its replacement.
This will be subsidised by means of a ring-fenced fund to which the Forum will contribute 10% of its annual net profit from all activities or £500 whichever the greater.