THE opposition party at Caerphilly Council are calling for the authority to rethink its decision on the introduction of parking charges for the country parks - saying it will be a disincentive to get people outdoors.

Caerphilly County Borough Council is set to introduce pay and display parking at five country parks which includes Parc Cwm Darran, Parc Penallta, Pen y Fan Pond, Sirhowy Valley Country Park and Park Coetir Bargoed. Charges would apply seven days a week with up to two hours costing £1, a daily fee of £3 and the price of an annual season ticket costing £50.

The Plaid Cymru group have criticised the charges which are subject to a public notice and any resident can voice their objections to the council's legal service until April 25.

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said: "I accept times are very tough for local authorities but this is all about getting decisions right and I don’t think the Labour group has achieved that with its proposals to introduce parking charges at country parks.

“The Welsh Government and, indeed, the council are rightly highlighting the need for both adults and children to get out of the house and exercise and yet introducing charges is both a disincentive to do so and also short-sighted."

He added: "With the warmer days ahead this means families with children as well as other individuals will be penalised and may be reluctant to go to our marvellous country parks. It is important the council listens to what the public say in response to these proposals.”

The introduction of charges could save the local authority an estimated £80,000 a year. The council have already agreed to the £14.53m in savings for 2014/15 and face the task of making further savings of £6.54m for 2015/16 and £7.06m for 2016/17.

Cllr Harry Andrews MBE, leader of Caerphilly council and Labour group leader, said: "With £14.6 million of Tory Westminster government cuts imposed on us, we all knew that hard choices had to be made when setting Caerphilly council's 2014/15 budget. In the absence of constructive contributions from the Nationalists, our Labour-led Council proposed a fair budget which made the necessary savings, while avoiding hitting the worst-off in our county borough".

Cllr Keith Reynolds, deputy leader, said: "Despite our conducting the most extensive consultation ever before setting our 2014/15 budget, no Nationalist councillor criticised the proposal to introduce car parking charges at our country parks. And so far as I know, Cllr Mann and his Plaid Cymru chums have made no alternative proposals about where the car park charges' revenue could be made up elsewhere, to balance our budget".