For the past 18 months or so thoughts have been given to controlling and or charging the general public to visit Dungeness – which is, after all, a private estate.
Immediate thoughts were to have some sort of barrier control with residents being issued with swipe cards for friends and families with all other visitors being charged a nominal sum – £2.00 per car to enter the estate.
On Friday last, in the Lifeboat Station, over 60 locals attended a meeting, headed by Maurice Ede representing the trustees of the estate to discuss the proposals.
It became apparent that, as owners of of the properties here have been granted a right of access throughout the Estate there can be no physical barrier, swipe card or not, as that would infringe upon the rights of those homeowners – UNLESS all agreed in writing to such a move.
I cannot see any local resident disagreeing to this apart from those with business who fear they may suffer a loss of trade. As if! £2.00 per car is hardly the end of the world – even if Dungeness is and most individuals visiting private estates expect to contribute something to the local area.even if only to pay for the cleaning up of the garbage they leave behind.
If there is to be a charge to come onto the estate then it should be applied to all those who wish to avail themselves of the facilities that Dungeness has to offer whether that be a quiet afternoon sitting on the beach or visitors to the lighthouse, railway station, Britannia Public House. The meeting seemed to segregate the casual 'day trippers' from those wishing to visit and spend money in existing business. Could they not be refunded £3.00 if the spent money at one of these money making factories. Why should those same business not contribute to the well being of the area? The charges being considered a re primarily to make funds available for the upkeep of the roads and parking areas. No the local council do not have a say in the matter as the road is 'unadopted' and for the sake of the 'shack' owners it should remain that way as any involvement with the local council would inevitably result in a sizeable hike in local taxes, which of course never find its way back to the local community.
The upshot of it all is that there will probably be a slip road for locals to and another 'honesty' slip road for those visitors from whom the Estate could attempt top extract this very modest fee. And pigs might…… The cost of manning a 'kiosk', even by a reputable firm company would be considerable and would eat into the funds being raised. So what is the answer? Perhaps a local tax whereby business making money out of the area contribute!
Anyway anyone out their with thoughts on this matter – please feel free…………………………. (whilst it is still free)