Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

The posh UK village embroiled in a £20 parking charge row aimed at guests

Organisers of a village festival have been branded “disgraceful” after visitors were stung with a £20 parking charge.

Belbroughton, a tiny but upscale village in Worcestershire, held its annual Scarecrow Festival earlier this year, attracting outsiders over September 23 and 24.

The popular festival – which draws an estimated 30,000 people – has long allowed visitors to park for free, but this year’s attendees were unpleasantly surprised by a new change.

A £20 parking surcharge left festival-goers incensed, with many voicing their complaints online.

The growing backlash has forced festival organisers to defend their controversial decision, which they said was made while keeping “family safety” in mind.

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Scarecrow Festival organisers introduced the parking charge for cars rather than the number of occupants.

Each vehicle intending to park at the venue would have to fork over £20 each, meaning large families received the same rate as lone festival goers.

One attendee, Tom Prior, branded the cost “disgraceful”, while Karen Potter added: “It’s a bit much.”

Several people said they were priced out of attending due to the new fees.

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Linda Cooke said her family hasn’t been able to afford the price required to enjoy the festival, with other charity events proving similarly expensive.

She added: “Bring back the days of village fêtes, where anyone could go and you just spent what you could afford.”

Another commenter, Ryan Astley, said: “Doubt we’ll be going if costs just that to park our car.”

Some people leapt to the festival’s defence, with Scott Wills saying he wouldn’t complain as it was raising money for charity.

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And Ellen Hall blasted “moaners”, saying it was “tedious” to hear their complaining.

Festival organisers later responded to the backlash, telling BirminghamLive the prices were raised to help make people’s visits “as safe as possible”.

A spokesman said they wished they could “just ‘put out a few road signs and cones’ on each of the roads in and out of the village”, but added that the event takes “months of planning” and requires them to employ traffic management experts who create “unavoidable costs”.

They added: “It means we have to charge or we simply wouldn’t be able to put this on and cover these costs.

“This is about raising money as a community interest company for various local organisations such as the church hall, the recreation ground and hall, the church, the primary school and to help maintain the village green amongst a few others.”

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