New hashtag to help with parking problems

With an influx of visitors anticipated in the Shropshire Hills AONB, teams across the region have been working together to help get news out to potential arrivals in the area.

A new hashtag #ParkShropshireHills will be used by teams managing various well-known sites to give up-to-date reports on the parking situation.

This will hopefully inform incoming visitors of when sites are at capacity so they can make alternative choices and spread the load across the region.

Nigel McDonald Sustainable Tourism Officer for Shropshire Hills AONB proposed the idea. He has been working with a network of the organisations that manage our most popular outdoor places to coordinate a response to the sudden pressure brought by release from lockdown.

“The use of a hashtag on the most popular platforms (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) allows us to give regular updates to visitors in real time. Visitors can also comment and retweet, helping to spread the message. This allows people to see when the sites are busiest, so they can plan their day around peak times. Afterall, nobody wants to visit places when they are overcrowded.”

“We are developing a network of local teams from organisations like the National Trust and Shropshire Council, as well as from the local community, to monitor parking pressure at key times and report what they see. These ‘ground controllers’ will also be connected through a text message network so they can share information with each other. This will avoid the problem of visitors being referred to places that are already busy.”

Here’s a typical ‘tweet’ “10.30am Sunday April 4 #parkshropshirehills Carding Mill Valley – filling up fast – use alternative parking at East Hope Road SY6 6BZ”

We are looking for members of the community to give live updates at unstaffed or infrequently staffed visitor sites. For example, members of the All Stretton community have already stepped forward to report on the small but popular car park in Batch Valley.

Marcus Halliwell, South Shropshire General Manager for National Trust stated, “This is just one measure we will be using in the up-coming period to manage visitor flow. We learned valuable lessons during last year’s lockdown easing and will be applying those this year. We have a larger staff team in Carding Mill Valley to deal with visitors and the team are well experienced.”

“We are working closely with town and local council officials, the AONB, local resident associations, the police and others to ensure the impact on residents is minimised. The safety of everyone is paramount, from visitors to residents to NT volunteer and staff.  We urge everyone to follow the government guidelines, keep an eye on our social media for updates, follow the instructions of the teams managing car parking and be kind to each other.”

Published by Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership on (modified )