Rules to change at one of the most confusing car parks in Milton Keynes

A new private company has been recruited to run the car parking system at Willen Lake, where large numbers of people have complained about unfairly receiving penalty fines over the years.

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:16 pm

From this Sunday, Smart Parking will be taking over from Napier Parking to manage all the lake’s car parks.

And a new system will be introduced to ensure every visitor pays on arrival, rather than exit. The parking prices, however, will remain the same.

The change was announced this week by the management of Willen Lake, which is run by The Parks Trust.

This car park will change to pay on arrival, but will still have ANPR

It follows a story in last week’s Citizen where Napier Parking defended its parking policy and insisted it was fair and did not need to be changed.

The Citizen receives frequent complaints from people confused by the pay on exit system in Car Park B, which is near the children’s play areas and Splash’n’Play. Many have tried to challenge their parking tickets with Napier, but to no avail.

TripAdvisor also contains numerous bad reviews from people who have enjoyed the lake but were puzzled to receive a parking ticket after their visit.

A spokesman for Napier told us last week: “We have no plans to change how the system works...We really have done everything we can to make the user experience as clear and simple as possible.”

The parking charges will not change with the new company

However, yesterday (Wednesday) the change of company was announced on Willen Lake’s Facebook page.

"There will be signage on site to explain the new instructions as well as Smart Parking staff available to help guide visitors on the use of the new system,” said a spokesman.

Currently Car Park A, off Lakeside roundabout and near The Lakeside Pub, operates a pay on arrival system, but Car Park B is pay on exit.

From Sunday May 1, Car Park A will continue to operate the same system and tickets must be displayed on dashboards.

However, Willen Lake management say the pay and display system will "soon" be changed to Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). They do not specify a date.

When the new system starts, people will still pay on arrival, but can use the RingGo app or pay with card or cash using the machines on site. The change will mean tickets no longer need to be displayed.

The same system will apply to car parks at the Peace Pagoda and Tree Cathedral.

Car Park B , which is off Newlands roundabout, currently has an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system, requiring people to pay on exit. After Sunday, this will change to pay on arrival and people can pay using the RingGo app or the machines on site.

Parking charges will remain at £8 for up to eight hours, £4 for five hours, £1.50 for two hours, £1 for one hour and 50p for 30 minutes.

The change has had a mixed response on social media, with some people querying the need for parking charges at all.

“I don't go there now as it’s too expensive. Everybody should boycott it,” said one resident.

Another said: “I think paying a parking fee at Willen is a small price to pay… This money goes into the pot to help fund the maintenance and upkeep of the parks, lakes and woodlands in MK.”