The leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council has moved to explain the decision to charge visitors to park at Cosmeston Country Park, despite vigorous protests.

The Vale council will press ahead with plans to introduce parking charges once lockdown restrictions are lifted, he said.

Visitors will be charged £1 for two hours, £2 for four hours, and £4 for the day.

Parking charges will apply between 10am and 5pm from October to February, and 10am to 8pm for the rest of the year.

A £30 six-month season ticket or £50 annual pass will also be made available.

Cllr Neil Moore, leader of the Vale council, explained: “It is important to note that under these proposals the car park will still be free to use for significant periods.

“There will be no charge for parking before 10am and after 8pm from March 1 to September 30.

“However, given the continual year-on-year reductions in the settlement afforded to the council, the council must consider its approach to the management of car parking and other services across the Vale.

“The introduction of car park charges at Cosmeston has been the subject of lengthy engagement, consultation and debate.

“The proposals were approved following a process of scrutiny by elected members of the council, who agreed them at the two all-party scrutiny meetings.

“It is vital that we recoup the costs linked to car parking provision, as well as those associated with maintaining areas such as our highly regarded country parks.

“These are used by many people from outside the Vale of Glamorgan as well as residents. It is reasonable that visitors should help pay for their upkeep and all money generated will be used for this purpose.

“It is important to stress that these charges will not be introduced until the resident parking and parking restriction proposals have been resolved and completed.”

Former Conservative councillor Anthony Earnest said he was extremely disappointed by the outcome.

“I am absolutely appalled to think that not only Cosmeston, but also Porthkerry Park, which is well-loved by those living in and around Barry, are to become the Vale council’s latest money-grabbing idea.

“Country parks should be free to visit, as in most other areas, and to make charges such as those proposed really does bite the bullet when it comes to spoiling people’s simple enjoyment of a delightful open area.”

The decision also drew criticism from Dinas Powys community councillors.

Cllr Chris Franks said: “It is outrageous that the Vale is behaving in this manner.

“Even the economics do not make sense. The council expects to charge motorists a total of £222,000 to park. However once tax and additional costs are taken into account the surplus is almost cut in half.

“So the bottom line is that the council gain is less than £120,000.”

Fellow Plaid councillor Richard Grigg added: “Why the cabinet is so determined to impose charges in the face of huge public opposition is a mystery. Over £64,000 of the income leaves the Vale in taxes. The Vale has a reputation for ignoring the views of the public.”