Stanmer Park: Brighton Healthwalk chief resigns as council denies parking permit Brighton News

A COMMITTED volunteer has resigned after ten years of walking in Brighton, his applications for a parking permit in a popular park having been repeatedly rejected.

Jim Mann has been a volunteer guide with the council’s Healthwalk program for the past decade and has held weekly sessions at Stanmer Park during this time.

The 70-year-old said he could ‘praise the Healthwalk program forever’ – but reluctantly resigned Thursday after Brighton and Hove City Council refused to grant him a parking permit .

A fee was introduced at the park earlier this month and Jim currently has to pay for parking for his weekly walk there and then claim his reimbursement.

The Argus: Jim MannJim mann

Jim, who lives in Southwick, said he felt “disappointed” by the advice.

He said, “I and the other leaders at Healthwalk religiously go out in all weather and give our time for free.

“We come home after a five mile walk and now have to go through this ticket scanning rig – all for a square piece of paper that I could put in my windshield to say ‘I’m a Healthwalk leader and I’m exempt.’ .

“I thought it would be a simple thing to get a license without all of that, because I’m here on council business.

“We feel sorry as we thought the advice would help, but we keep hitting a brick wall.”

Jim said he was even angrier when he noticed that some vehicles in Stanmer Park appeared to have parking permits.

He said: “After trying to fix this problem for a month and still facing a dead end, we are seeing blue and yellow permits on the vehicles in the park.

“We were trying to be as helpful as possible and we still can’t figure out where the problem is – especially since we know that some permits have been granted, perhaps to council employees.

The Argus: Jim said his Healthwalks in the woods through Stanmer Park are popular year round.  Photo: Claire PulmanJim said his Healthwalks in the woods through Stanmer Park are popular year round. Photo: Claire Pulman

“My Healthwalk manager friend and I were really upset that the board was treating us badly enough.”

The Healthwalk program welcomes people of all ages and abilities to participate in walking to improve their physical and mental health and well-being.

Coordinated by Ramblers Wellbeing Walks and the City Council, and run by around 80 volunteers, there are different walks of varying lengths that groups can join on a regular basis.

Jim said he was “very committed from the start” and also organizes Christmas social events and other walks outside Brighton.

He said, “It’s such a great program because it’s there to cater for everyone.

“A lot of the people who go for walks are the same age as I am and that doesn’t keep us half-fit.

“There is also a social side: you get to know people well.

L'Argus: Photo taken at Stanmer Park by Tyrone CampbellPhoto taken at Stanmer Park by Tyrone Campbell

“But it’s a matter of principle. I’ve been put in a difficult position.”

A council spokesperson said: “There are many volunteers who provide invaluable service and assistance to the people of the city.

“The introduction of parking fees at Stanmer means that some of these volunteers have to pay parking fees.

“For people who provide services directly with us, such as executives at Healthwalk, we can offer a refund, or preferably – as the lockdown becomes more streamlined – alternative travel options such as free bus tickets.

“The range and depth of volunteer services and activities at Stanmer are vast.

“We will continue to examine how we support them without limiting the space for other people who visit the park.

“The changes to the park follow an investment of over £ 6million in the Stanmer Park restoration project. It involves the council, Plumpton College, the National Lottery and the South Downs National Park Authority. ”

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This notice was published: 2021-04-19 10:00:00