Plans to Re-open Country Parks

Northamptonshire County Council Leadership team is aiming to re-open country park car parks by 22nd May in response to Government guidance issued on the 11th May to the effect: ‘we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise. You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations. You can even play sports but only with members of your own household. You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them’. Angling has also been identified as a permitted outdoor activity.

This re-opening of facilities will be on a phased approach as outlined below.

Phase 1
• Permit access for angling from 14/05/20.
• Obtain and install social distancing signage which will include dogs on leads as per government advice
• Finalise operating procedures – to ensure safety of staff and public
• Notify Police and other Northants authorities in advance of intention to open

Phase 2 (Target date – by 22nd May)
• Re-open car parks to enable local dog walking and ‘park grounds only’ access to park grounds to a wider range of people for permitted exercise and leisure activities.
• Parking charges will re-commence (season ticket holders to have extended expiry dates to compensate for closure period)
• Public toilets will be opened (subject to deliverability of suitable hygiene and social distancing controls)
• Publicity will be low key to avoid attracting excessive numbers i.e updating the country parks website and answering social media and mainstream media enquiries.

Phase 3 – (Date TBC)
• Open children’s play areas and cafes only when government rules allow- possibly for takeout service only initially
• Outdoor Learning, public events and volunteering only when government rules allow

Ranger’s role
Rangers are still working in parks to keep them from becoming dilapidated. Their role upon re-opening will include:
• Take reasonable steps to encourage visitors to maintain social distancing – display banners, posters and talking to visitors from a safe distance)
• Seek to resolve social distancing problems by discussion and encouragement
• Report to Police on 101 any significant social distance problems (examples – BBQ/Picnic or Sports/games type gatherings with above normal family size numbers failing to disperse on request; abuse and aggression)
• Report general status of using the Social Impact Cell report form and maintaining photographic record
• Rangers will not seek to marshal parking initially to avoid unnecessary additional staffing and close contact with visitors.
• Rangers will be on duty (including weekends) to monitor and report on compliance and to close car parks if parking and/or social distancing becomes a problem.
• NSport staff will be available as a back up to rangers for assisting with above roles

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