Wokingham Borough Council has warned only residents from Hurst, Winnersh and Woodley should be visiting the country park
PARENTS will have to pre-book their children’s play time, due to new restrictions at Dinton Pastures.
The council has changed its approach towards the country park, after concerns there were too many visitors at one time.
Residents that live outside of Hurst, Woodley and Winnersh are being encouraged not to visit.
Hurst ward councillor, Wayne Smith, said he couldn’t understand why people were driving across the borough to visit the country park.
“I’ve heard reports of people coming from Finchampstead to Dinton, when they have California Country Park right on their doorstep,” he said. “I’ve even heard there were visitors from outside of the borough arriving.”
He said Hurst residents have been getting in touch with him over the month, growing concerned about the number of people at the park.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure at the borough council, said: “We ask that people should only visit Dinton Pastures for their daily exercise if they are a Wokingham Borough resident who lives nearby – ideally in Winnersh, Woodley or Hurst.
“If you live further afield, we encourage you to exercise as close as possible to your home.
“The Government has not given a specific indicator on how far you can travel for your daily exercise, but it does state that you should avoid travelling outside of your village, town, or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. Common sense should always prevail, and we must act responsibly.”
Now, the play area will have a booking system, available on its website.
There will be more covid support officers in the country park, and increased social distancing signage as well.
Cllr Batth added: “This weekend, we are introducing a ticket booking system for the play park which will see it operate at 50% less of its usual capacity. There will also be socially distanced queuing and additional signage where appropriate.”
One-hour slots will be available between 10am and 4pm on weekends and school holidays.
Cllr Batth added: “Double bookings will not be permitted, and it is asked that people only book if they know they will show up, to save disappointing other families.
“Alongside this, all children should be under the supervision of an adult at all times – this will not be the responsibility of staff members as they will be focusing on safety numbers and marshalling entry and exit points.”
Visitors are encouraged to arrive at, or just after, the time of their booking slot to avoid overcrowding and prevent any queuing for the session.
At the end of each session a whistle will be blown, and visitors will be encouraged to leave the site. There is a 15-minute period before the next slot begins.
“We appreciate all the feedback that our residents have given on our parks and play areas and feel that the decision to limit visitor numbers at Dinton in this way is the right one,” said Cllr Batth. “We do not want to have to our close our parks, though we may need to take further action if social distancing rules aren’t followed. Please continue to follow the national guidance and help bring infection rates down.”
He said visitors are permitted to purchase takeaway drinks from the DragonFly café to enjoy on their walk. However, they should move along quickly afterwards to help avoid crowding.
“Our Covid Support Officers are on hand to promote best practice and ask people to move on if necessary,” Cllr Batth said. “We encourage everyone to stick to government guidance to help protect our communities as much as possible.”
But Cllr Smith is concerned about reports of abuse towards covid marshals.
“We shouldn’t even need marshals,” he said. “We’ve been in this pandemic almost a year now, people should know better.”
Last weekend, the council reduced car parking by closing the overflow car park, close to the Davis Street entrance.
Car parking will continue to be reduced, with more parking enforcement as well.
The council has also put a formal Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) in place to prevent visitors from parking in the surrounding lanes.
For more information, and to book a play slot, visit: www.dinton-pastures.co.uk/plan-your-visit