CAR Parking charges at Poppit Sands continue to bolster the coffers at the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

In a budget performance report for the nine months to December 2019 to be presented to the audit and corporate services review committee, it states that the Poppit car park has so far raised £60,253 against a projected budget of £38,496 – nearly £22k above target.

The report states: “Car park income for the nine months of £424k, which is £13k above budget and up £1k for the comparative period in 2018/19. Notably income at Saundersfoot is considerably down on prior years and is compensated by increased income at Poppit.”

Only a car park at St Davids generated more cash for the park authority in the same period - £65,944. Saundersfoot raised £53,827. Newport Sands car park took in £20,562.

That news reflects the rapidly growing number of visitors to Poppit’s Blue Flag beach in recent years – in 2018/19 the comparable figure for the car park was £54,586; in 2017/18 it was £52,206; in 2016/17 it was £44,919 and in 2015/16 it was £34,623.

This will trigger further debate over the future of the toilets - which are in need of major refurbishment - and who should finance their running. The national park currently makes no contribution.

The toilets are the responsibility of Pembrokeshire County Council, but the authority is looking to cut costs and one of the options could be to close the toilets.

Pembrokeshire County Council and the parks authority are currently in discussions over who will take future responsibility, with St Dogmaels Community Council fearing the impact on tourism in the area and the loss of Blue Flag status if the toilets were to close.

As at December 31, 2019 the National Park Authority’s net revenue actual and committed expenditure was £3.351k, £51k (1.5%) under the profiled budget of £3,402k.

Castell Henllys, between Cardigan and Newport, raised £62,877 in admission fees for the period ending December 31, just under £8k on forecast. A further £39,448 was raised at the site through merchandise sales, a further £9,000 off target.

The report states: “The Earth Watch roundhouse and Smithy building repairs were both completed in the summer of 2019.

“A number of repairs and enhancements other than the round houses are planned including the sewage treatment works, rebuilding of ramparts and improving both internal and external access.”