Dispelling the myths 1) “Bradgate Park is Council run” The Park is run by the Bradgate Park Trust, a local independent Charity. Whilst Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council and the National Trust all appoint Trustees to our Board, the Park is not controlled by any of these organisations. The Councils were initially responsible for funding the Park when the Trust was established in 1928, but now just provide £24,000 between them a year and this is less than 2% of the costs to run the Park – the Charity has to raise the rest. In real terms our Council support has reduced by 95% since 1995. 2) “The Bradgate Park Trust was left to the people of Leicestershire by Charles Bennion, the Trust are rich so why do they keep asking for help?” The Bradgate Park Trust as a charity has to raise £1.2 million a year to maintain and keep the Park and Swithland Wood open. This covers caring for the nationally important landscapes, maintaining toilets at all 3 car parks and in the Park; removing waste; providing visitor services through our Visitor Centre and Tearooms; caring for the deer; providing educational activities and events. The Trust was not left an endowment, so each year has to raise these funds. Nearly 80% of this comes from our Tearoom and car parking income – less than 2% comes from councils. 3) “Paying for car parking is behind the times with machines that only take cash.” For over a year the Trust has been working with companies to explore options for automatic number plate recognition in our car parks and other payment options such as phone and card payments. The challenge with Bradgate Park is the lack of utilities and connectivity on site (just think how hard it is to get a phone signal at the Park!). We hope to find solutions but the costs are high and as a Charity we are exploring all options. We hope there will be a solution in the coming year – but our location is the challenge! Our machines do only take cash, but in busy periods our Wardens can provide change, or at Newtown Linford visitors can ask in the Conservatory Tearoom. 4) “We pay our Council tax why should we pay to park when visiting?” There are few locations you can visit nowadays without paying admission or parking. With 9 entrances (many with public right of way) we can not charge pedestrian admission. Car park charging was introduced in 1995-1997. In 2001 charges were: up to 2 hours £1.50/£2 at weekends; 2-4 hours (£3/£4 and over 3 hours £4/5. A season ticket was £115/£90 (concession). With inflation this would equate nowadays to up to 2 hours £2.11/£2.82 at weekends; 2-4 hours £4.23/£5.64 and over 3 hours £5.64/£7.05. A season ticket was £162/£127 (concession). Season tickets are now 22% cheaper at £90/£50 concession. Staffing to monitor the short stay car parking has been cost prohibitive across the 3 car parks. We know people would prefer this option which is why over the last year we have been working with companies to look at ANPR options (see earlier post). We are a small Charity and your car parking helps care for and maintain the Park and features you love – so please do not pass on tickets when leaving. If you come more than twice a month consider a season ticket (it reduces the cost to less than £2 if you visit more than twice). The Park costs £1.2 million to maintain and provide the facilities you enjoy – please help care for the Park and support us. 5) Why are overflow car parks not always open in winter? Our overflow car parks are on grass fields. The nature of the geology and landscape means these are not robust and easily churn when wet. We have laid reinforcing mesh on them that extend the season but they still cannot be used when the ground is soft. In addition, in winter we follow the approach that many heritage landscape organisations take to try to limit number visiting, so we protect the sensitive nature of the Park. We are looking at options, but these are expensive. We do appreciate it can be frustrating when Newtown Linford is full, but we have recently paid over £4,000 to Leicestershire County Council for additional brown signs to flag the routes to Hunts Hill (Old John) car parks. This has greater capacity and will help distribute visitors across the expanse of the Park. 6) “Why can’t we park on the roads around Bradgate Park?” There are a number of reasons we ask people to respect our neighboroughing communities. Until recent memory many people visited the Park by public transport, but now we do not have as frequent buses and there are none on Sundays. Car ownership is also greater – so more people travel by car and the roads are increasingly ‘clogged’ causing safety issues. The roads around the Park are the rural village by-roads and many are residential streets. Private drives are blocked and it causes hazards for residents trying to leave their properties when sight lines are hindered by parked cars. The hilly, bendy roads are also not suitable for on-road parking. In 2016 we approached Leicestershire County Council as the local highway authority with our concerns about parking on-road in Newtown Linford. We are concerned about the safety issues this causes. The Trust has recently paid for a consultation about adding more yellow lines to Bradgate Road up towards Anstey and we are awaiting the outcome of this. If acceptable the Trust will foot this bill as it is not a priority for the Council. The local councils do enforce parking restrictions – you will receive tickets if you park on double yellow lines. We have three car parks, with over 900 spaces for cars. please consider Hallgates and Hunts Hill if Newtown Linford is full – and remember your car parking pay and display ticket, helps care for the place you are coming to visit. 7) "Bradgate Park is a public space so I can fly my drone/model planes there"Bradgate Park is private land, with public access granted by the Trust as landowner and not by virtue of any statutory right of access. This access does not include to right to use the airspace above the Park. We do not allow flights of drones, model planes or balloon releases due to the risk to the wildlife and number of visitors.Regarding drones we have liaised with the CAA and are now working with drone app providers to have the Park added as a no-fly zone, something we were unaware we could do, but thanks to feedback from visitors in recent weeks, we are now progressing. 8) “The Trust is over-commercialising Bradgate Park” In recent years as council funding has declined the Trust has had to look at different sources of income to pay for the care of the Park. Our popular tearooms have been one way we have achieved this and are something people expect when visiting (just like public toilets). We have introduced a number of new events and many such as the Proms, theatre/cinema take place when the Park is closed, with some events (where there is a finish after dark) having parking within the walls. For others we encourage people to Park at all car parks and walk down. In the main we do not run events on bank holiday or peak summer weekends. Due to pressures some events at Newtown Linford such as the Summer and Winter Fairs have caused to residents we have decided to cancel these for 2018. Our events are popular with many of our walks, talks and theatre selling out. Many events are free. As an educational heritage charity we try to offer a balanced programme with activities for all ages. We now offer Wifi at both Tearooms and the Visitor Centre – but we encourage all visitors to come and enjoy wild time not screen time at the Park (although we understand we are a Pokemon hotspot!) 9) “The Tearooms have long queues”. Bradgate Park is popular with over 500,000 visitors each year. The Deer Barn Tearoom at the heart of the Park is very popular and in 2016 we added the Deer Hut for take away drinks and refreshments at weekends and holidays, with our friends at Alonzi Icecream and Creperia offering their popular service in winter. In 2017 we managed to install technology upgrades that have allowed us to take card payments for purchases here, so reducing queues. We have to work with what we have in terms of buildings and each year we try to make improvements to facilities. We are aware that people would like to see facilities at Old John, so currently have a planning application for a small catering outlet within the vicinity of Hunts Hill car park – but this will only be developed when the charity has funds available. 10) “The litter and dog mess at Bradgate Park is unacceptable – the Trust should do more.” The Bradgate Park Estate is over 1300 acres but most visitors are concentrated in the area around the tarmac road than runs through the lower part of the Park. We ask everyone to take their litter home or use the bins provided. We require all dog owners under the Public Space Protection Order to clear up after their dogs across the whole Estate (or face a potential £100 fine). We have added more bins in the last two years and these are emptied by staff on a regular basis (and this is often the vehicles you see across the Park). We also have volunteers who help each week ‘litter pick’ the Park. It costs the Charity over £100 a day to remove waste from the Estate, so we ask everyone to play their part. Litter can harm the wildlife on the Park, so please do not drop it/leave rubbish behind. Discarded bbqs and cigarette stubs last year caused two fires, discarded dog-poo bags were shown to be causing deer deaths – so the seriousness of the situation is real – please help care for the Park. 11) "My photos and creative artworks are my copyright, so I can freely sell images and products with representation of Old John and Bradgate Parkt" We wish to support local creative artists, including photographic enthusiasts, but where images are sold for commercial gain, including the use of images on products such as cards and mugs this represents an unauthorised commercial use of our intellectual property and an infringement of our trademarks.Whilst we appreciate there are many misconceptions about Bradgate Park and its ownership, the Park is managed by an independent local charity. The Trustees and management team are therefore responsible in law for protecting the physical Estate, as well as intellectual property rights and integrity, and ensuring Trademarks and bye-laws are upheld. The Old John image is a registered Trademark (Registration No 2272671, dated 2003) of the Bradgate Park Trust as are the styles "Bradgate" and "Bradgate Park". We do offer permits for people to apply for photography licences (varying fees), which are aimed mainly at commercial photographic shoots ad workshops, which constitute a commercial use of the Park which is otherwise prohibited by our Byelaws, and also offer a licence for small creative practitioners to sell items (where there is a turnover of less than £2,500 per annum) that covers a 5-year period and is this £100 for the 5 years (paid in advance). For photographic sales business with a turnover greater than £2,500, we will look to enter into a bespoke licence arrangement on commercial terms. For details of these we advise photographers/craft makers and artists to email [email protected] This opportunity is a great way to support the Charity and the scheme allows holders to use a Supporters logo if desired. 12) “The Park is anti-dog.” We are not anti-dog but pro our deer. In 2016 we reported a 30% reduction in the number young red deer being born. This was put down to stress due to increased dog chase incidents. As a private landowner we worked with Charnwood Borough Council to utlilise new legislation to bring in Public Space Protection Order Guidance for the whole Estate. 75 % of Bradgate Park still offers areas where dogs can be off a lead, whilst under effective control. We have seen it reported we shoot dogs – this has not occurred in living memory – but we do have the right as any private landowner does. 13) “There are too many cars in Bradgate Park.” The Trust’s Estate Office, Deer Barn Tearoom and Visitor Centre are in the heart of the Park. This is the base for storage of supplies for all toilets and Tearooms (so we have weekly deliveries) and base for our Rangers/Wardens/ volunteering. Many of our staff work shifts to ensure we have cover from 7.45am through to dusk each day, so there is traffic at shift changes and also around the hours of opening for the Centre and Tearoom. The Park also has two residential properties and families have access to and from these. Whilst it may disturb visitors, all staff give way to pedestrians. The main carriageway is the only estate road and is the only way we can travel to perform the daily duties needed to maintain the Park. 14) “We want to run events on Bradgate Park - we can can’t we?” As a courtesy we ask any large group/school to let us know they are running events/visiting so we can offer support as needed (including ensuring sufficient staffing in our tearooms, extra checks of welfare facilities and of course so we are aware if there is an emergency).We always try to accommodate visits and help ensure everyone has a great day out!Bradgate Park is covered by enforceable byelaws which mean that no commercial activities can take place on the Park/Estate. All commercial activities require permission from the Estate Office and there is normally a charge.